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Community’s critical support for students takes many forms

Many programs that provide direct basic-needs services such as food, housing, and emergency grants to Sac State students benefit from outside gifts, helping enhance the University's well-earned standing as a caring campus. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Students struggling to manage school and hold two, sometimes three jobs to pay for books, housing and food were particularly hard hit by COVID-19.

The campus and greater Sacramento communities responded quickly and generously to help.

Within a two-month period at the beginning of the pandemic, when Sac State closed the campus in favor of distance learning, more than $170,000 poured in to support student basic needs services.

From a Swarmfunding campaign, to the 2020 Give Sac State Day, to additional gifts, support for basic needs programs increased 95% that year.

Donations were distributed to the following funds: Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Food Pantry, Seth Nelsen Emergency Grant, Student Emergency Housing, and Sac State CARES.

The ASI Food Pantry served 17,000 people, while emergency funds kept 130 students in school. The average grant amount was $1,000. Thirteen students received emergency housing.

Students facing food insecurity received help when the city of Sacramento stocked the ASI Food Pantry with grocery gift cards.

“Even though the pandemic has kept us physically distanced, supporting our students during these extremely challenging times has brought the Hornet community together again,” said Lisa Cardoza, vice president for University Advancement.

Other gifts arrived, providing current and future support for student services.

Umpqua Bank made an unrestricted gift to the Sac State CARES and the Guardian Scholars programs. Another notable philanthropist made a $500,000 unrestricted gift to support programs under Student Affairs, including student wellness, mental health initiatives, and academic centers that ensure students from all backgrounds and circumstances can thrive.

Students facing food insecurity received help when the city of Sacramento stocked the ASI Food Pantry with grocery gift cards. The city also teamed with restaurateur Chris Jarosz, owner of the Broderick Roadhouse chain, to deliver 6,000 quart-sized, packaged meals to students over the course of a month last spring.

A conversation between Danielle Muñoz, CARES Office case manager, and Julia Burrows, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s senior policy advisor, led to the meals-for-students program.
A $20,000 grant from the city’s Justice for Neighbors program, which collects fines from owners of nuisance properties, covered the cost of ingredients and meal preparation done by the Jarosz team.

Community support was evident again in November when donors helped ASI surpass its Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive fundraising goal of $5,250 in 26 days. Donations exceeded that mark by 40% in just 18 days.

The University views these and other instances of support as notable examples of the community’s ongoing willingness to play an important role in the success and well-being of Sac State students.

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About Dixie Reid

Dixie Reid has been a writer for Sac State since 2012 after decades as a newspaper reporter. A Texas native with the accent to prove it, Dixie is crazy about “dear friends, big dogs, good books, great food, day trips, baking cookies, California sunshine (and fog), and kind people.”

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