According to Tiffany Haynes, Director of Financial Aid at Porterville College, 100 to 150 students are helped a month by the PC Pirates Food Pantry.
Her comments came during this past week in which PC focused on homelessness and hunger.
Students who have families are the majority of those who are served. Students are able to come to the PC food pantry once a week and show their student I.D. card to receive 2 or 3 bags of groceries. The groceries are non-perishables, refrigerated, and frozen items.
The Pirates Food Pantry has a partnership with the Community Food Bank in Fresno, and because its an agency, it can share food with other agencies in town.
There’s also a Neighborhood Market hosted by PC Student Services partnered with the Fresno Food Bank across the street at the Jamison Stadium parking lot, on the fourth Monday of every month, from 10 to noon, for the entire community.
At the market anywhere from 6,000 pounds of food per month is distributed. People are asked to bring their own bags or a cart for transport. The Neighborhood Market will be open on Monday, November 25, at 10 a.m.
“The finance and food pantry are working on a food insecurity survey for students this week,” said Haynes, “that way we can provide additional services if they need it, and that’s where we tie in the CalFresh workshop.”
Rebecca Cruz is the CalFresh technician who runs the workshop for students and will help them complete the application.
Second year student Sas Juanita Baldwin sat in the Student Cafeteria Conference Room at Porterville College and watched a film on Homelessness that portrayed the life of a man and his two children who were living in his van in Los Angeles. He worked in construction and the kids went to school. It portrayed their frustrations, lack of privacy, and the children’s difficulties with concentration, and showed flashbacks of difficulties they’d experienced.
She said, “I know that the financial aid office has the food pantry and many of the school clubs try to help out with the homeless. They donate food items, clothes, and toiletry items. I believe in our school and on campus we have a lot of students who are hungry and they cannot afford nutritional food because it’s expensive. From my personal experience with homelessness, I was in transition from moving from one city to another. Because of lack of stability and lack of access to nutritional food my diabetes flared up. Now I’m stable and my diabetes is under control.”
Haynes told the students the film was produced by the Coalition of National Homelessness Awareness. A small resource fair, CalFresh and another film about homelessness was presented by the Central Valley Crisis Center.
“We are here to help you,” Haynes said, “and we hope you take advantage of it.”
For each homeless and hunger event, a student could register, and on Thursday, November 21, 150 boxes of Thanksgiving meals were given out, first come, first served.
Haynes said the meals include chicken, and a wide variety of items for Thanksgiving.
On Wednesday, November 20, at the PC Conference Room, Aron Hernandez of Family Crisis Center (FCC) the Permanent Housing Case Manager presented a slide film showing homeless camps and spoke about the various agencies, churches, the City of Porterville, Family HealthCare Network, and other local agencies that help the homeless in Porterville. He said, “Homelessness in our community is growing, and it’s nice to see the agencies and churches step up to help.”
There’s the Porterville Rescue Mission, The Women’s Shelter in Porterville, and there are other shelters in Tulare, Visalia, Hanford, and Dinuba.
Hernandez spoke about trying to find permanent housing for people, and said he has been able to place four people in permanent homes and that’s a fantastic feeling. Besides housing, he works closely with Art Duron, who’s Lead OutReach Specialist for PATH, which is Project Assisting in Transition from Homelessness. Duron interacts often with people down at the river in Porterville and other homeless communities and he helps arrange Project Homeless Connect yearly, and said it will be on Friday, January 24, in 2020 in Porterville, but it will also take place in Hanford, Visalia, and elsewhere.
Duron said the PATH outreach program helps with mental health services, getting homeless people to adult clinics in Porterville and Visalia, Kings View has a mobile clinic, and Link to Medicare. There are many more services the Kings View program provides for mentally ill homeless individualsv and links them up with available housing resources, medical care, mental health and social services.
The film Hernandez showed the audience had pictures of the homeless by the river, and many showed people with dogs. Both Hernandez and Duron said the dogs provide companionship and warmth for people in the winter, but it’s not just in the winter.
Duron said, “Many people say, ‘Why do they have dogs, when they can’t take care of themselves?’” He said, “Animals help them. A dog gives them a reason to get up in the morning. They have to feed their dog. Homeless people are like anyone else. They are people in need.”
Hernandez said, “It breaks your heart.” When he goes to the river, or takes donations to the homeless, he takes dog food, besides other necessities.
Duron spoke at length about Project Homeless Connect, and showed a list of what they provide for the homeless, including transportation, bike repair, mental health services, haircuts for people, grooming for animals, nail clipping for dogs, Birth Certificate vouchers, and much more.