Monday, April 12, 2010

New Food Shelf for Students Available

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Denise Elmore has been organizing and pushing for food collection to begin at Valencia and it's finally begun!

The bill was passed last February to set this operation in motion. In order for the school to legitimately collect and dispense free food to the students, Elmore underwent a long drawn out procedural process. Students can now donate food to those who are in need or at a loss for food, any time during school hours.

"Donate anything, then we'll sort it out," Elmore said. "But we request non perishables, cans with pop top lids, microwaveable stuff, anything the average student would eat." On the go meal bars, vegetarian foods, or Cheetos would be good too.

Students can, also, give their feedback to SGA regarding what they'd like to eat and what students should donate.

There are many reasons why a student might not be able to afford their own food. Some people set their education as their top priority, over having a job. They can just take out student loans, instead, and pay the money back after they graduate.

In 2008, more than 30 percent of the nation's population fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The poverty line for a household of 1 person is $10,830 and for 3 people, $18,310.

Elmore said, "The food pantry is for anyone who needs it, students and faculty or any employee of Valencia."

Students should donate as soon as they can, summer is on its way.

Summer is the season with the highest amount of hungry students. They may have to feed children who are on summer vacation and would otherwise receive free food during the school year, in the cafeteria.

There is also the factor of the low amount of money that registered students can receive in grants and loans, over the summer. Many don't know this, but if a student is enrolled in 2 classes, during the summer, they are only eligible for half of the financial aid they would attain if they were enrolled full time. Taking part time classes may feel like a full 4 class schedule, because even the largest term, Summer C, is still about 4 weeks shorter than the Fall and Spring terms. Summer A and B having about 4 to 6 weeks to each term.

The food shelf is run as a sort of a discreet operation. With SGA running it, there are no forms to sign when you either donate food or take food from the room. "You have to trust that only those in need will take advantage of it and
students need to trust SGA to keep it discreet," Elmore said.

"Confidentiality is respected," she said.

Because the pantry is still in the beginning stage, there is still some expanding and allocation of space to take place. Any excess food will be donated to Second Harvest, if students don't need it.

Donations can be dropped off at the SGA office in building 3 at the West campus.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

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