Leticia Caballero wants Stanislaus State Stockton Campus students experiencing food insecurity, a housing crisis or a financial emergency to know that she is on campus every day to help them in a variety of ways.
“A lot of students see me as the ‘pantry person’ because I’m responsible for the Warrior Food Pantry, and I spend a lot of time in the pantry,” said Caballero, basic needs coordinator for the Stockton Campus. “But there are lots of ways I can help students. If they are experiencing financial or housing insecurity, they should contact me. We can talk through it, and I can connect them to resources.”
Those resources are found on campus and off. They include CalFresh and other food assistance, housing assistance, funds for emergency situations, mental and physical healthcare services and assistance, help optimizing students’ financial aid and the campus recreation service, which offers a no-cost gym for working out and feeling better.
Hired by Stan State in August 2022, Caballero earned a master’s degree in education with concentrations in student affairs and educational organization and leadership from the University of the Pacific, then worked there for seven years in the Residential Life and Housing department.
During her time at UOP, she learned a lot about the emotional and financial crises students sometimes experience, as well as the resources and assistance programs available to them in San Joaquin County.
Caballero relates well to students who are facing difficulties, because she clearly remembers what it was like to struggle as a student when she was working toward a bachelor’s degree.
“I come from a very low socioeconomic background, and I went to Humboldt State (now Cal Poly Humboldt) before they had a food pantry,” she said. “My first year there, I ran out of meal points. I had to literally survive on bread and Nutella. So, I understand the challenges students face.”
To make it easy for students to connect with her, Caballero has established a Warrior Connect link that sets up appointments between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. She can also be reached at (209) 513-9441 or through email.
Over the last few months, she has noticed an uptick in the number of students who make appointments to meet with her in her office. Often, they first connected with her in the pantry or heard about her services via a campus posting or old-fashioned word of mouth.
“Students come into the pantry, and we’ll have conversations about their needs, then I’ll follow up with them and talk through some strategies,” she said. “Then they realize I’m consistently here to help every day, and they tell other students, and that leads to more conversations. That’s been working out very well.”
Caballero said students who visit the pantry in the Acacia Court Building for the first time are often surprised to learn that they can get 10 food items a week free of charge regardless of their income. The only requirement is that they be enrolled at Stan State and have a Warrior ID number. The pantry program is designed as a “low barrier” service that students can access easily, she said, noting that even if they forget to bring their Warrior ID their number can be looked up.
Another surprise for students, she said, is that the pantry is filled with the same food items and personal care products they would buy in a typical grocery store. That’s because Caballero keeps the pantry stocked by making regular trips to the same popular discount stores students and their families frequent.
And all those trips to local grocery stores have benefited Caballero in an unexpected way.
“I know where everything is in the stores,” she said. “I can grab what I need and get out really fast.”