End Student Hunger With SRJC Honors Society


Joseph Barkoff / Oak Leaf; Photo Illustration by Danial Barba

Joseph Barkoff, Photo Editor

Six hours. Three weeks. One ton of food.
Volunteers with a newly formed SRJC food bank handed out more than 2000 pounds of healthy food to hungry students and community members in the month of April alone.
The Santa Rosa Junior College’s Phi Theta Kappa honors society held its first food bank 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 9 between the Race Building (Health Services) and Emeritus Hall for one purpose only: to feed hungry people.
The food bank is intended to feed everyone and anyone who is hungry and is held every Tuesday. It is the brainchild of Associated Students Vice President Robert Edmonds and Phi Theta Kappa adviser and Health Services Dean Dr. Ezbon Jen, who were aided by a small but expanding band of volunteers.
At the first drive, Edmonds, Dr. Jen and five Phi Theta Kappa volunteers, honor students, Jeremy Stefonich, Tina Lowe, Chantel LaPierre, Huy Pham and Tamera Brattin, handed out 471 pounds of food. The following Tuesday, the same core group of volunteers, along with some new faces, gave out 850 pounds. In Phi Theta Kappa’s third week, with even more volunteers, they distributed more than 1,200 pounds of food in only two hours.
“We have access to these resources, so we are opening up and sharing,” Edmonds said. “It grew out of an idea that had been going around the JC. No one was willing to go through the hurdles of making it happen.”
With Edmonds’ past experience in organizing the “Santa Rosa Food Not Bombs” campaign, he felt he had the necessary skills to take the reins and lead the way on the project. He was right. First, he asked Student Affairs what was required for such a generous and seemingly bold proposition. With checklist in hand, Edmonds blazed a path through the red tape.
With an SRJC-sanctioned club and an adviser in support of the project, the volunteers contacted the Redwood Empire Food Bank to join their collective of satellite distributors, acquired Safe Food Handlers Cards for volunteers and set the first food bank date.
These past Tuesdays, everyone who came by was given a bag that volunteers filled with items like Amy’s Organic frozen burritos, oranges, yams, Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots, romaine lettuce, tortillas, Forest Nameko mushrooms cultivated at Gourmet Mushrooms Sebastopol and loaves upon loaves of healthy breads.When a passer-by asked, “What’s the point of all this?” Edmonds responded, “To feed hungry people.”
We all experience it, and Phi Theta Kappa’s goal is to make sure hunger doesn’t remain an issue largely ignored by the people. When asked about the idea behind this Edmonds replied, “There’s a need. There are hungry students and in our society and culture, and in particular Sonoma County, there is a bounty of food and more than enough to go around.”
Reinforcing Edmonds, Dr. Jen said, “Instead of having to go to the food bank, they brought it to us.” Along with the wisdom that one “can’t work full time and be a student full time.”
To join the national honor club, students need to meet the appropriate academic requirement with a grade point average of 3.5 or above. Due to the exponentially increasing success of the food drive, anyone who wants to volunteer to help hand out food is welcome and should contact Edmonds or the Society.
The original goal of Phi Theta Kappa was to have a food bank drive once a week on the SRJC campus. Having so far succeeded with the first goal, Edmonds is now currently looking into finding storage with refrigeration space on campus to expand the program.