By Alyssa Velasquez
Riverside City College has introduced a new resource center for students in need of day to day necessities.
The Basic Needs Resource Center on campus provides students with groceries, toiletries and prepaid food and gas cards every two weeks. RCC’s Food Pantry stocks its shelves with various groceries each week.
While all can benefit, first choice is given to students who are deemed most in need.
Benjamin Vargas Jr., supervisor of basic needs and wellness, said many students struggle to find these deemed “basic needs” daily.
“The idea is that you’re making meals (and) taking snack items that are going to get you through the day when you are hungry,” Vargas said.
He also encourages students to apply for the CalFresh Program.
In addition to the food pantry, meal tickets for RCC’s City Grill will soon be available. Based on the referral form students are required to fill out at the resource center, prepaid grocery and gas cards be picked up at the campus cashier’s office. The resource center is working with the cafeteria to provide eligible students with meal tickets.
Vargas’ goal with the meal tickets is to provide support to students by providing meals.
Mario Arce, a physics major, said the meal tickets will be beneficial to the students on-campus.
“I’ve gotten a food bag myself, and I think I may be getting meal tickets in the future,” Arce said.
He also said that gas cards are very beneficial considering the recent fluctuation of gas prices.
RCC’s Basic Resource Center is also one out of 15 colleges to provide housing “pilot program” opportunities. This project is affiliated with the Homeless Housing Insecure Pilot (HHIP) program, which helps homeless students have a temporary place to live while pursuing an education.
“The goal is that we get students into our program and become independent by the end of our program,” Vargas said.
Though there are certain policies the students must follow, like being employed and paying a percentage of the lease, the idea is to get students “ back on their feet.”
Funds from the postsecondary education bill AB 132, which passed in 2021, provides the Basic Resource Center’s with their supplies.
Compared to the students who currently attend RCC, many haven’t taken advantage of this program, but Vargas intends to partner up with other departments on campus to promote and spread awareness of the opportunities all students have.
Amel Abdelfatah, a student worker from the resource center, said that all students at some point need some kind of assistance during the span of their education and thinks this center offers the students that support.
“We help students get their priorities straight while they focus on their studies,” Abdelfatah said.
The resource center is located in the Charles A. Kane building at RCC and is open Monday through Friday.