With 91,000 public college students (community and four-year/public schools) in Silicon Valley, hunger on college campus is a real problem in our community.

A 2015 San Jose State University Student Food Access Survey of 5,000 students found:

  • 21% sometimes/often didn’t eat for a full day
  • 39% sometimes/often were hungry but didn’t eat because they didn’t have enough money
  • 50% sometimes/often cut size of meals or skipped meals because they didn’t have enough money

Second Harvest’s Just-in-Time Mobile Food Pantry brings more than 10,000 pounds of food to the SJSU campus every month, where 80 volunteers, including students, hand it out to students in need.

To qualify for the free service, students must be a current SJSU student with an annual income below $23,540.

At a recent food distribution, many SJSU students spoke to Second Harvest staff about why they were there to get food.

Not having enough money, which in turn meant making tough choices, was often mentioned.

“I have a $30 a month budget for food, so the idea of 2 free bags of food is mind blowing to me,” said Nick Mosca, an Applied Computation Mathematics student. “I don’t have a lot of time to have a typical, minimum wage job just because of my schedule. So I have to do tutoring, which can be very hectic in terms of clientele and what kind of income I can have.”

Tied directly to a lack of funds for adequate, nutritious food was the struggle to afford the cost of living in Silicon Valley.

“Me and my roommate, and we have another roommate…we split $3,000 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment – that’s more than my parents’ mortgage for their house,” added Lauren Cook, a Communications Studies student at SJSU. “I’d rather pay for living costs for a place to sleep than food at the end of the day, unfortunately.”

Out of the 11 colleges Second Harvest directly or indirectly works with, San Jose City College and San Jose State University are the only 2 colleges who operate as a “Just in Time” school pantry distribution. All other 9 colleges have onsite pantries that are typically open Monday through Friday.

In order to address food insecurity within colleges, Second Harvest works with various colleges to run two types of distribution models.  One is called the “Just-in-Time” model where food is delivered monthly and distributed within a couple of hours. The second model is called an “On-Site” model where food is delivered weekly to the college for distribution to students. The Just-in-Time Mobile Food Pantry made its first delivery to the SJSU campus in October 2016.  Nearly 330 students received fresh fruit, vegetables, canned food and other groceries, and the numbers have been increasing every month.