November 17, 2022
Santa Monica College to Provide 1,100 Free Thanksgiving Meals
Santa Monica College to Provide 1,100 Free Thanksgiving Meals to Food Insecure Students on Tuesday, November 22, at 3rd Annual GIVING THANKS(giving) Holiday Grocery Drive-Thru Giveaway
Celebrity Chef Mary Sue Milliken to Host Pre-Game Virtual Cooking Q&A for Students on
Monday, November 21
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Nov. 17, 2022) – As college students across Southern California continue to struggle accessing basic needs to thrive and continue their academic pursuits, Santa Monica College (SMC) is ramping up its efforts to provide its students with fundamental living essentials including food, housing support, transportation, childcare, and more. As part of its Basic Needs program, led and organized by the Santa Monica College Foundation, the college will host its 3rd Annual GIVING THANKS(giving) grocery giveaway on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to provide fresh, holiday groceries to 1,100 students experiencing food insecurity.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food costs have spiked 11.4% during the past year – the largest annual increase since May 1979. In fact, some analysts suggest that dining out for Thanksgiving this year may be more affordable than cooking at home as year-over-year cost increases in commodities have soared. When it comes to Thanksgiving specifically, year-over-year cost increases include eggs by 32.5%, butter by 25.8% and flour by 17.1%, accounting for some of the biggest contributors to the overall price jump consumers are facing when buying ingredients for the big meal.
“With more than 50% of students at Santa Monica College experiencing basic needs insecurity, including adequate access to food and/or housing, our students are exceptionally challenged to fulfill their academic ambitions in that there is evidence to support that ability to focus in the classroom can be directly linked to personal safety and nutrition,” said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, Superintendent/President, Santa Monica College. “The GIVING THANKS(giving) event, coordinated by the Santa Monica College Foundation, is a cornerstone of our far-reaching food security program that encompasses an on-campus Bodega stocked with free food and living essentials and free meals provided by generous donations to ensure that our students have their basic needs met.”
A national study by The Hope Center in 2021 indicated that nearly three in five college students experienced basic needs insecurity, with food insecurity affecting 39% of students attending community colleges. With the support of many non-profit partners, local businesses and corporations, Santa Monica College’s Basic Needs Program works to ensure that students have their basic needs met, especially access to nutritious, fresh food. Many studies show that students impacted by food insecurity are less likely to persist, transfer, or graduate from a four-year university and fail to reach their academic ambitions.
The GIVING THANKS(giving) event, which has already fed more than 3,000 students during the past two years, is a day-long, drive-up, outdoor event that will take place, rain or shine, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the main campus located at 1900 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. The only eligibility requirement is current enrollment. Each student will receive their choice of a turkey or vegetarian protein, fresh vegetables including green beans, potatoes, carrots, onions, yams, celery, plus dinner rolls, a pumpkin pie, butter, salt and pepper, non-alcoholic beverages, recipes, customized online holiday cooking tutorials, and a disposable turkey pan.
“Students at our college and across the country are struggling for their very basics – to eat, to have safe housing and reliable transportation, among so many other fundamental needs,” said Margaret Sohagi, Santa Monica College Foundation Board Chair. “By coming together as a community at events like GIVING THANKS(giving), we continue to prioritize these types of basic needs programs and make a true difference in the lives of our students as they pursue their dreams and academic ambitions.”
For students without personal transportation, SMC Foundation and the SMC Associated Students will provide free, one-way Lyft ride vouchers to students. For students, who may not have the means to prepare a meal or are unhoused, Santa Monica College Foundation will extend the event with a holiday hot meal distribution at the college’s Bodega, on Wednesday, November 23.
Celebrity Chef Mary Sue Milliken to Host Virtual Holiday Cooking Q&A for Students
Celebrity Chef Mary Sue Milliken, an award-winning chef, cookbook author, activist, and media personality best known for her modern Mexican concept, Border Grill restaurants, food trucks and catering, will host this year’s GIVING THANKS(giving) “Pre-Game”, a virtual cooking Q & A for participating students on Monday, November 21. The online forum will guide students through the cooking process offering tips and suggestions to make a delicious Thanksgiving meal with the ingredients they receive the next day.
“College students facing food insecurity in America today is completely unacceptable,” said Milliken. “Fortunately, many determined and generous individuals and organizations are working to increase access to nutritious food. Santa Monica College is leading the way, creating innovative and effective programs to eliminate the need for students to choose between basic needs, healthy meals and their education.”
GIVING THANKS(giving) event sponsors and partners this year include Santa Monica College, Santa Monica College Foundation, SMC’s Associated Students, KCRW 89.9FM, Jacmar Foodservice Distribution, Costco, Vicente Foods, Gelson’s Market, and Whole Foods Markets.
"The roots of the GIVING THANKS(giving) event can be found in the holiday gatherings with students and faculty that was started many years ago,” said Wendi DeMorst, MA, SMC Interim Associate Dean of Student Instructional Support. "And while the current event was borne out of necessity during the pandemic, it has carried on the tradition of giving and support to thousands of students at Santa Monica College. It is so gratifying to see this tradition blossom and grow.”
Donations can still be made online at https://foundation.smc.edu/areas-to-support/giving-thanksgiving.php, or interested individuals, companies and organizations can contact Tessa Cavenah at (310) 434-8583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Santa Monica College Foundation
Santa Monica College Foundation's mission is to eliminate barriers to ensure academic success for Santa Monica College students. The foundation connects donors with opportunities to effect change at a world-class educational institution where equity, access, and excellence intersect.
About Santa Monica College
Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For 31 consecutive years, SMC has been California’s leading transfer college to UCLA, UC Berkeley, and other University of California campuses. The college also tops in transfers to the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University and is the top feeder west of the Mississippi to the Ivy League Columbia University. More than 110 career training degrees and certificates at SMC—in fields ranging from the traditional (Accounting, Early Childhood Education, Nursing) to the emerging (Sustainable Technologies, Technical Theatre, and a baccalaureate degree in Interaction Design)—offer professional preparation for students interested in directly entering the job market, transferring to a four-year school, or upgrading specific skills. In addition, SMC Foundation helps to eliminate barriers for students through scholarships and program support to ensure academic success. SMC provides news and cultural enrichment through its NPR radio station KCRW (89.9 FM), the Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center, and lifelong learning through distinctive programs such as its Emeritus Program for older adults.