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Month of a Million Meals: College student food insecurity grows at Mira Costa College during pandemic

Mira Costa food distribution.jpg
Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 13:55:35-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — This Month of a Million Meals ABC 10News digs into how hunger is impacting college campuses.

Feeding San Diego is making sure students taking their educations to new heights aren’t feeling the weight of finding their next meal.

At Mira Costa College in North San Diego County, food insecurity grew during the pandemic, according to the Campus Assessment, Resources, and Education team.

The campus has a food distribution for students twice a month.

Volunteers pack bags of food that will feed 200 of their classmates.”

For students like Diego Dominguez, it’s a great feeling to have a food pantry supported by Feeding San Diego on the Mira Costa College campus because it gives him one less thing to worry about.

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"Otherwise, I would have to take resources away from another budget. You know they are available to share with my family," said Diego Dominguez.

Dominguez is a business administration student by day and a father of four by night.

He made the choice to go back to school during the pandemic.

"It was a challenging time. So I had to kind of set an example for them because my oldest son was in college, and he was struggling there during the pandemic, and I knew my other sons were going to come to college soon. So it was kind of like a do-or-die moment for me," he said.

He and his son share their only car to go to school.

“I’m right there, and he’s right there. We carpool sometimes. We coordinate. We write out our schedules on paper, and we plan together," said Dominguez.

He and more than 20,000 others have benefitted from the Campus Assessment, Resources, and Education (CARE) team’s partnership with Feeding San Diego since 2019.

"Food insecurity is experienced on a spectrum. You can have students who are mission meals one day, students who are cutting down their meal sizes because they can’t afford a full-size meal, [or] other students who might just forget their wallet and no longer have access to buy food while they are at school," said Devon Boone, Mira Costa CARE Team.

During the pandemic, organizers said they needed to ask the non-profit for more food after seeing an estimated 30 percent increase in student needs.

They said the high number in need hasn’t slowed down.

“We still have students that are continuing to have struggled with their housing and other financial needs," said Boone.

Dominguez tells students there is nothing wrong with using the resources available to them.

That is why he said he is telling his story.

"This will save me about $40 to $60. I usually average it out on a full bag of groceries," said Boone.

Food distribution happens twice a month at Mira Costa College.