“Advocacy Student Center” chosen as name for new center to fight poverty.
By Bismarck D. Andino
The sculpture contest Nov. 15 to collect food for the opening of the food pantry awarded the social work program, the professional and technical education division, the early childhood studies program, and the division of arts and sciences with a Gnome Ranger statue for their efforts.
A panel of judges composed by Elaine Ayala, columnist and reporter from the San Antonio Express-News; Susan Filyk, communications manager at San Antonio Food Bank; and Mamie Benitez, board member of Network Power Texas and founder of Magic Closet Boutique, helped choose the winners.
The three judges agreed on awarding social work students “Most Creative” for their sculpture of a cardboard traffic light on red mounted on cans of ranch-style beans, and a wall made of white cans of corn and red cans of tomatoes sauce stacked to form the word “hunger.” Their theme was “stop hunger.”
The professional and technical education division in collaboration with the United Methodist Campus Ministry won the award for “Most Items,” collecting 1,500 cans of soup and building a “spirit of giving” Christmas tree.
The early childhood studies program in collaboration with the Non-traditional Students Club were awarded “Best Student Group,” collecting 124 boxes of cereal, and displaying pictures of children building towers with cereal boxes, making reference to a “strong foundation, bright future” slogan.
The arts and sciences division won “Most SAC Proud,” collecting 600 items, mainly rice and beans, and creating a sculpture in the shape of a heart.
After the contest, all donated items were delivered to the new food pantry in Room 323 of Chance Academic Center.
“I love to see the emphasis on fighting hunger,” Filyk said. “It’s something that we can work together … and what a fun way of fighting it.”
Earlier this year, surveys were distributed to students on campus to help identify serious issues affecting students.
Economic problems were selected in 75 percent of the surveys, The Ranger reported in September.
In an effort to address economic issues, President Robert Vela commissioned a committee led by Dr. Tiffany Cox Hernandez, chair of the public policy and service department, and Lisa Black, social work program coordinator, to provide assistance to students with basic needs.
Black said Tuesday that the initiative started last spring when the committee began brainstorming about how they could support students with academic and economic needs.
They visited Amarillo College over the summer to learn from programs there.
“Roughly half of the community colleges students across the United States are food insecure, which means that they don’t have access to the right foods or enough foods. San Antonio College is no different,” Black said.
“We are trying to mitigate the effects of hunger because you can’t come to class and think straight if you’re hungry, or if you’re worry about what you’re going to feed your kids. So we are trying to provide that safety net.”
Cox said the initiative received a budget from this college.
“We got $1,500 to start the foundation fund, which is what you need to be able to start it. That way people can donate over time,” she said.
“The committee was given a budget from the deans and the vice president (Dr. Jothany Blackwood) to keep the program running and the office functioning. I think we are looking at around $10,000 over a full year,” Cox said.
Vela congratulated the committee for their initiative and effort in brief remarks at the event. He said that over the past six days faculty, staff and students help raised over $1,000 worth of food.
“Food insecurity is one of many economic challenges faced by students while attending college. It’s also one that we can work together to improve,” he said. “We are standing together as a college community to ensure that no student attends class hungry while pursuing his or her dream.”
In addition, because of the lack of a better title, this initiative has been called the “Anti-poverty Campaign.”
A “Name That Initiative!” contest named the new project “Advocacy Student Center.”
“Advocacy is really so much of what we are going to do for students, so I was really glad that it was picked because not only are we giving them food, but also providing case management services,” Black said. “Any student that has a need can meet with a case manager, and they will help them identify local resources.”
“If you need food, you probably have problems with housing or you may need help with utility bills,” she said.
Cox said the main idea of the Advocacy Student Center is to help students get through whatever is that they are struggling with.
“Step in and introduce yourself… they will sit down with the students and ask what their needs are,” she said.
She also said if students are interested in learning how nonprofit organizations function, they are welcome to touch base with the center.
The initiative offers sessions for students to learn how nonprofits work and how they can volunteer in the new program.
For more information regarding food or clothing assistance, contact Black at 210-486-0347 or by visiting Room 323A of the Chance Academic Center.