CoronavirusNews

Food distribution for students returns pandemic-proof

The Mesa Market’s curbside pickup service is on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Southern and Dobson campus and Wednesdays at the Red mountain campus. (Photo courtesy of Student Life and Leadership).
We Care Wednesdays and the Mesa Market have turned contactless as Mesa Community College (MCC) heads into the fall semester. Because of COVID-19 and campus closure, We Care Wednesdays has transformed into a drive-thru, and the pantry has become a curbside service. 

The two services offered by MCC’s Student Life and Leadership are another example of how the pandemic has altered life on campus–or off. Staff and student ambassadors have had to think creatively to continue providing food and other supplies to students in need. 

“The Mesa Market, for instance, is kind of a smaller space, so we have to limit the amount of people that come in and try to keep it clean, so we kind of prepackaged their food,” said Beth Ann Wright, the program coordinator for Student Life and Leadership. 

She turned to contactless solutions, such as the curbside service and a drive-thru. 

The Mesa Market is now a curbside pikcup on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon on the Southern and Dobson campus. The Red Mountain campus’s pickup time is from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesday. Students must sign up by noon the day before. 

“Students starting Sept. 1 will be able to request a bag of food, or a hygiene bag or a school supply bag,” said Wright. “And then they can pick it up during scheduled times by the library, and we’ll be there with their food and their bag.”

The pickup location for the Southern and Dobson campus is by the MCC Library, and signs direct students. Once parked, they call a phone number, and someone will come out with their bags and stow it in their trunk. 

The Red Mountain pickup location is at the Red Mountain Way bus stop in front of the Mesquite building.

“As far as, like, We Care Wednesdays goes, that used to be something where they would, you know, come and grab and have a box, and kick the glass so they can put it in their car,” said Wright of the fresh produce distribution service partnered with United Food Bank.

Instead, on the first Wednesday of every month, students will drive into the Southeast parking lot, and a volunteer will place the food in the trunk of their car. Everyone must wear masks.

“…We’re not having them get out of their car or their space… we’re just, you know, trying to keep it safe.” 

Both services shut down over the summer to reconfigure in the face of the pandemic. Student Life directed students to the United Food Bank and gave gift cards from a Kroger food grant in emergency situations. But Wright was frustrated they had to stop at all. 

“…Our initial reaction [to the pandemic] was just that we wanted to do whatever we could in order to support students,” she said. “…The biggest concern that we were going through with the pandemic is just making sure that students that visit the Mesa Market regularly were able to get the food they needed.”

Student ambassador Dillon Bradshaw said, “Before, students would come every day, come into the market and get their ten items and food… but now, they have to come in once a week and pick up their items.”

Wright explained that the Market has seen students who bring their whole families, but now they can drive up, barely roll their window down, and stay safe. A walk-up option is available for students without vehicles. 

Within hours of Student Life opening the sign-up link, several students immediately requested Mesa Market bags. Bradshaw, who prepares the bags for both services, is now more involved than ever taking and packaging orders.

“Student Life is here to help students. That’s our whole point,” said Bradshaw. “We just want students to feel safe and comfortable with whatever they’re doing in this time of crisis.” 

“It’s not only about giving food,” said Wright. “It’s about showing that we care. It’s also about making sure that they have access to other resources that they might be in need of.”

Bradshaw also encouraged students to become involved on campus and with Student Life in Leadership in other ways. A list of virtual events are on their web page, including virtual clubs, multicultural events, and student government. 

The first Mesa Market distribution was on Sept. 1, and the first We Care Wednesday was Sept. 2. The next We Care Wednesday will be Oct. 7. 

Click here to see more We Care Wednesday dates, sign up for the Mesa Market, and find other resources: https://www.mesacc.edu/student-life/services-campus-resources

See the rest of the virtual events and services Student Life and Leadership offers at https://www.mesacc.edu/student-life.

About Author

Nienke Onneweer is the Managing Editor and Copy Editor for the Mesa Legend. She joined in August 2019 and has been publishing articles since January 2019. She has been writing since childhood, and her favorite punctuation is the em dash. Find her on Twitter @thenienke.

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