/ Modified jul 3, 2023 6:59 p.m.

Cochise College food pantry gets $30,000 grant

The funds will be used in-part to add cooking and nutrition workshops for students

Cochise Cupboard 1 Cochise College Student Wellness Manager Loren Gladwill (left), and Cochise College Sophomore and work study Isidro Calvillo (21, right) inside the Cochise Cupboard Food Pantry, which is located in the 600 building at the college's Douglas Campus. July 3, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

Cochise College’s food bank received a $30,000 Rural Partners Cohort grant from the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. The grant is to establish a consortium across Graham, Cochise, Greenlee, and Santa Cruz counties.

The Cochise Cupboard food pantry, which provides a variety of non-perishable, canned foods, and hygiene products, serves between 150-300 students a month during the two16-week semesters according to Cochise College Student Wellness Manager Loren Gladwill.

“The main issue we’re running into is students, who are facing food insecurity, are not finishing their degrees because they don’t have the means to do so," Gladwill said. "If they’re wondering where their next meal is coming from, they’re not worried about what grade they’re getting on a class. They’re worried about ‘when am I going to eat next?’”

He said that they plan to use some of the $30,000 to develop cooking and nutrition workshops and to purchase a commercial refrigerator.

Cochise Cupboard 2 The Cochise Cupboard Food Pantry allows students to take up to 10 items a week. The pantry supplies a variety of non-perishable items from canned goods to hygiene products. July 3, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

Gladwill said that the pantry runs off of grant funds and donations and does not use any of the college's institutional funds. Douglas Campus Dean Abe Villarreal said that grants are deposited and distributed the food pantry through the pantry's fiduciary partner, the Cochise College Foundation, which is a 501c3.

Gladwill said one of the partners of the food pantry is the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

"What they do is as long as it's an academic food pantry, so it's serving students, then we receive a monthly truck from them with food," said Gladwill. "We also partner with people like Walmart here in Douglas. If they have stuff that they can no longer sell, they'll donate it to us."

Gladwill said the number of students using the food pantry has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Specifically this last year, they've been jumping a lot," said Gladwill. "I'm not sure if that's just because we've made it more well-known that we have a food pantry, or because the need has risen."

He said students can visit the food pantry at the 600 building at the Douglas campus or fill out a form online to have goods delivered to them. He said that Cochise College staff has historically been allowed to use the food pantry, but noted its main purpose is to serve students.

"They just come and get whatever they want," said Isidro Calvillo, 21, a sophomore and student worker at the Cochise Cupboard. "They just got to sign in the items that they took. They're allowed to take 10 items per week."

Calvillo and Cochise College sophomore and Resident Assistant Victor Marrujo, 24, said that having a food pantry on the campus is crucial, as students often don't have the means to cook themselves a meal due to finances or appliances.

"I have a couple of friends who, for example, they live here at the dorms during the semester, but they don't necessarily have a place to stay when the semester is not going on," said Marrujo. "So a lot of the times, they do have troubles with, like, food insecurity or, like, home insecurity. So, it is, like, a big burden off their back knowing that they can come here and pick something up. Or they don't have to spend, like, all of their allocated resources on food or groceries."

Gladwill said that the pantry was started in 2018 by a sociology professor who did a survey with her students about food insecurity, which established a need for a food pantry for students. They did a pop-up food pantry across different locations until three years ago, when Cochise Cupboard got its current location.

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