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College of the Desert, FIND Food Bank Address College Debt, Food Insecurity


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College of the Desert, FIND Food Bank Address College Debt, Food Insecurity

Story Link: Kamari Esquerra NBC Reporter

It now pays to go to college. Students at College of the Desert will now have an opportunity to reduce their college debt by giving back to the community.  

“College Corp is an opportunity for us to be a win for students by helping them for school, by also being a win for the community because they’re going to be serving, doing really important work,” said Josh Fryday, Chief Service Officer for the state of California. 

On Tuesday, College of the Desert, FIND food bank, and state and local leaders launched the opening of a food pantry at COD’s campus in Indio. 

It’s part of a new statewide initiative to help address the student debt crisis and a variety of challenges plaguing our communities. 

“This really represents an opportunity to contribute, serve and provide additional hope to our community members and community who are experiencing dire challenges, specifically food insecurity,” said Dr. Martha Garcia, Superintendent President of College of the Desert. 

At COD, students who complete a year of service with FIND food bank will be eligible to receive up to $10,000 to go toward their college tuition. 

“To help me get through college, it’s going to help me financially, but also that sense of self accomplishment… it is important to have that self accomplishment of helping the community,” said Derick Talay, a member of the College Corps program. 

“Financially, of course, it takes away the worries of paying for tuition and books. (And) overall, playing a role in being a positive leader, that’s the biggest benefit,” said Djuane Nunley, a member of the College Corps program. 

And it’s not only helping students with their academic expenses. 

“When it comes to colleges and universities, we know that a lot of people are trying to improve themselves by going to academic institutions but many of them are also struggling with food insecurity,” said Debbie Espinosa, President and CEO of FIND Food Bank. “It allows equitable access to the students to be able to tailor it to whatever their time needs may be in order to receive the food they need and be able to thrive at the same time.”

40 College Corp students will volunteer their time to run the new food pantry located at 45524 Oasis Street in Indio. 

COD students will also get access to food and other essential items at no cost. 

“We’re telling a whole new generation of Californians, if you’re willing to serve your community, we’re going to help you pay for college,” said Fryday.