Supporting Basic Needs so Students Can Focus on their Education

Jul 21
Basic Needs Resource Center

Riverside City College is committed to ending college hunger and homelessness, and plans to continue to not only feed and connect students with vital services, but bring awareness to this issue to create systemic change.

More than a decade ago, the College’s food pantry opened with supplies donated by faculty, staff, and students. Recently, housing, food and resources have been made available through the efforts of FeRita Carter, vice president of Student Services and Kyla Teufel, dean of Enrollment Services, and many volunteers from across the campus.

“When students are not able to obtain basic needs (air, water, food, shelter, sleep, and clothing), they tend to give up, drop out of school, or find other methods of survival,” Renee Martin-Thornton, director of Student Health and Psychological Services, said.

An infusion of state funds is enabling the College to expand basic needs programs and open a Basic Needs Resource Center. The postsecondary education trailer bill (AB 132) implements a $30 million ongoing investment to support basic needs centers on college campuses, thereby offering a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the basic needs of college students. 

RCC’s allocation of nearly $750,000 enabled the College to create the Basic Needs Resource Center and fund essential ongoing support services. The new Center will be located in the Charles A. Kane Student Services and Administration building in the space formerly occupied by the Veteran’s Resource Center. The College is also the recipient of $2.1 million in funding from the State Chancellor’s Office as a part of the Homeless and Housing Insecure Pilot program, which will be incorporated into wraparound support for food and housing insecure students.

The Basic Needs Resource Center will be under the administrative direction of Dr. Martin-Thornton, director of Student Health & Psychological Services. This addition will allow the Student Health & Psychological Services team to create programs, activities, and support to nurture the health and wellness of our students.  

Ben Vargas, former educational advisor for La Casa, will be coordinating the day-to-day operation of the Center and will be committed to ensuring students receive the basic need resources they so desperately require to persist in college. 

“There are times when personal finances can get out of hand. This can cause issues with housing or basic needs such as gas, food and much more. Without the basic needs and wellness services, it would have been an extremely difficult semester. I am grateful to have the support they have offered,” voice of RCC students.

Priorities of the Basic Needs Resource Center include:

  • Coordinating with the campus Financial Aid office to ensure students receive the maximum aid available;
  • Identify, support and link students to on- and off-campus housing, food, mental health and other basic needs services and resources, including Cal Fresh and other public benefits for which they are likely eligible;
  • Foster on- and off-campus partnerships, including coordination with the local homelessness response system to ensure students have access to community-based services; and
  • Provide work-study for students and volunteer opportunities for those interested in supporting the holistic needs of our students.

The Basic Needs Resource Center is scheduled to open in the fall.