ARC’s Basic needs committee helps students through a variety of programs

Committee offers assistance for students to access basic needs such as food, technology, health and more

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American River College’s Basic Needs Committee offers a wide selection of resources to help students who need access to food, technology, health and more, in Spring 2021. (Photo via Pixabay)

Madison Duong, Staff Writer

Looking for a hand with basic needs to help you get by as a college student? The American River College’s Basic Needs Committee is here to assist you with just that.

The committee provides help to students if they do not have access to food, clothing, housing, technology, health and wellness or other basic needs as a result of COVID-19 closures. 

Valerie Adger, ARC’s interim student support supervisor for student services, says the committee provides any resources that are inside or outside of college to help students be more successful in school.

This can include mental health referrals, gift cards for groceries, food boxes during our monthly food distributions, housing resources, emergency housing vouchers, county aid resources and more,” Adger said in an email to The Current. “Whether it’s the monthly food distribution or housing assistance, students are grateful for the additional assistance and knowing that their college cares about more than their academic needs.”

Adger says that there are still ways the committee offers students help through a pandemic.

“We continue to work with all students remotely via phone, email or zoom,” Adger said. “We also have transitioned our food distributions to monthly drive-thru events instead of the walk-up events on campus.”

CalFresh Outreach Director, Amy Dierlam says CalFresh helps ARC students by allowing more money in their monthly budgets to buy healthy fresh food.

“Students can use the rest of their budget for other expenses – such as rent, transportation and medical expenses,” Dierlam wrote in an email to The Current. “Students can even buy more expensive food such as organic foods to help in better health, for those who are homeless, there is a restaurant program where you can get hot prepared food with your CalFresh benefits.”

Dierlam says there are multiple ways for students to apply for CalFresh benefits. 

“Students can apply through CalFresh’s app, CalFresh’s website, or go to the Department of Human Assistance offices and apply in person,” Dierlam says. “After applying, you will have a phone interview with a county worker and may have to upload some paperwork to finish up.”

For students who aren’t able to qualify for CalFresh, Dierlam suggests looking into River City Food Bank and Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. According to both websites, these two programs provide healthy food for those who need it and other assistance through a variety of programs.

Gilliam Dierdre, health and wellness director for the Los Rios Community College District, says Campus Well is a wellness newsletter that is available to all students across the district. 

“Each campus has the ability to tailor it to the needs of the college at any particular time,” Dierdre said in an email to The Current. “So if students request a particular subject, we can find that in the library and publish it for that month.”

Dierdre says his main goal is for students to have easy access to all health and wellness services across the district with ease.

“There should be no difference between a student’s experience at our Health Centers, and we are working hard to make sure that is true when we go back to campus,” Dierdre said. “When we discuss issues of equity, health equity, ensuring all students have equal access and can expect the same quality of care, is first and foremost for us as part of your healthcare team.”

COVID-19 added stressors for many students, but students are still able to access health services that are available to access in a remote environment. 

“Mental health services are a priority, especially with the added stressors we have all experienced since the pandemic hit,” Deirdre said. “In a remote environment, most of the feedback we’ve gotten has been from students who have used our free medical and mental health service, TimelyMD and those who have used it have expressed satisfaction with ease of access and the care received.”

For more access and information on ARC’s Basic Needs Committee click here.