Ray hopes to counsel people who have experienced trauma in their lives, but right now he is trying to get an education in one of the most expensive places in the country. The Mission College student is grateful for the food he receives from Second Harvest because it’s helping him pursue his goal of becoming a college counselor.

“The food helps me because I have food security for the next few weeks. I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to have for lunch or dinner.”

Growing up, there was usually food in the house. But Ray remembered a time during the recession when his family had to cut back on their food budget.

“I noticed we planned our meals around the cheaper ingredients or anything we could grow,” he said. “But growing up, you aren’t aware of the reasons why. You just go with it, at least in our family. We didn’t question them. We were eating and that’s all that mattered.”

Ray transferred from Gavilan College in Gilroy to Mission College in Santa Clara last fall. Like many other students, Ray struggles to pay for food and other needed expenses while attending college. Despite working two jobs, he lives in his van because rent is just too expensive in Silicon Valley. Ray found out about Second Harvest’s food distribution on campus soon after he started attending Mission College. He was afraid to ask for help but eventually built up the courage, sharing, “They make it really welcoming. And seeing a line of people made me feel like I belonged.”

Now he picks up groceries once a month. Ray encourages people who need help not to worry about asking for it:

“I was a youth minister for about seven years and just being in contact with a lot of youth who have gone through some trauma, and listening to their stories, really influenced me into social work. You probably have more responsibilities or circumstances that you do need to worry about – don’t let food be one of them if there is a way to get it. It’s a weight off your shoulders. There is a community with you, especially if you are a student.”

Nourished by his community, he’s focused on graduating with a degree in psychology and education. Despite the challenges he faces in Silicon Valley, Ray believes that his life and wages here are much better than where he grew up.

With your support, Second Harvest can ensure that more students like Ray are pursuing their dreams.

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