West Hills College Lemoore recently opened an on-campus grocery store, called the Golden Eagle Pantry, located in their student Union, March 16, 2022.
The pantry is a collaborative project supported by Kings Community Action Organization, CalViva Health, and West Hills College Lemoore and provides groceries at no cost to WHCL students.
“We have recognized that in our mission of the relentless pursuit of student success, we need to provide for students’ academic needs and their basic needs,” said James Preston, West Hills College Lemoore President. “Food security is just one of these needs.”
The Golden Eagle Pantry began as a student club in 2013 to help support students experiencing food insecurity challenges. In 2014, the student club partnered with the Food Recovery Network and Panera Bread, allowing weekly food distributions on campus. In 2017, the Eagle Pantry partnered with the Community Food Bank, which provided mobile monthly food distributions on campus.
In November of 2021, a partnership with Kings Community Action Organization (KCAO) with CalViva Health was established. Funds for start-up equipment and a steady food supply to supplement the current food pantry efforts allowed the Eagle Pantry student club to move into a grocery-like setting on-campus and provide groceries at no cost to WHCL Students.
“The pantry is all free and you can grab an item from different sections. It saves a trip to the grocery store which saves gas, so the financial savings to us as students is huge,” said Aaron Villarreal, WHCL student. “If you are a student at West Hills Lemoore, you can walk into the pantry, sign in, grab the items you need, and walk out. It’s as easy as that.”
As it is now known, the Golden Eagle Pantry provides all West Hills College Lemoore students with up to 10 grocery items three times weekly, at no cost to the student.
“When our students are well fed and not worried about where their next meal will come from, they are more likely to stay focused and engaged and ultimately are more successful in the classroom,” said Preston. “We are grateful to our community partners and to our community college system office for providing us with resources so we can directly support our students.”