The California Faculty Association (CFA) is the union that represents more than 26,000 teachers, coaches, counselors and librarians working at CSU campuses. Those dedicated professionals see the worries of students on a daily basis and are deeply aware of the impact the stress and strain of home or food insecurities have on students’ ability to learn.
To address those issues, the Stanislaus CFA Chapter has stepped forward with a donation of $35,000 to the Stan State California Faculty Association Campus Cares Fund. The donation includes $10,000 earmarked for ongoing operating expenses of the Student Emergency Fund and the Campus Food Pantry and $25,000 to establish an endowment to provide continuing support for the fund.
The Student Emergency Fund provides immediate financial assistance to Stanislaus State students who encounter temporary financial hardships due to an emergency situation, crisis or catastrophic event. The Campus Food Pantry provides no-cost access to food and basic personal supplies for students.
“It boils down to the fact that we’re teachers and we care about our students and their ability to learn,” said Steven Filling, professor of accounting at Stanislaus State and president of the Stanislaus CFA chapter. “We know students struggle to learn when they’re worried about their utilities being shut off or when they skip meals because they can’t afford food. There are teachers that routinely bring food to their classes for students. The food disappears and suddenly students are a lot more engaged in the learning process. This is in line with the large body of research in K-12 demonstrating that the free breakfast/lunch program is one of the most effective mechanisms we’ve found for improving learning outcomes.”
Campus Cares seeks to ensure that no student goes hungry and that our students can focus their energies on learning rather than on how they are going to fund an unexpected expense. The assistance Campus Cares can provide could well be what keeps a student on track with their academic goals.
“I am deeply grateful and impressed at this expression of compassion toward our students from our CFA, and it is consistent with the overwhelming faculty generosity I’ve seen in my five months here,” said Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn. “It means so much to me and the campus that our faculty are invested in not only the education of our students, but also their overall well-being.”
The problem of food and housing insecurity throughout the CSU system is well-documented. Initial findings of a statewide study on poverty among CSU students, released in January, estimated that 8 to 12 percent of CSU students are homeless, and 21 to 24 percent are food-insecure.
“When that study was released I fielded a number of calls from news media and the community. One of the common questions was whether I felt the greater than 20 percent figure was reasonable,” Filling said. “That’s around 90,000 CSU students across the state, and yes, it does reflect the experiences of our teachers. I’ve had conversations with struggling students, and suggested that they would find it much easier to do well in the class if they bought the textbook. Students often responded that they had to make choices between paying their bills, buying textbooks or buying food.”
Stan State conducted its own campus study of hunger and homelessness in 2010, which indicated that 43 percent of students had skipped a meal and 81 percent were forced to decrease their purchase of food during the academic year for financial reasons.
Filling noted that the Stan State CFA donation is an indicator of how effectively President Junn has brought the campus community together to meet the needs of students.
“Knowing that the President and the entire campus community share our commitment to making an immediate impact on the challenges our students face was a deciding factor for the contribution,” Filling said. “We are very pleased to work with President Junn, Associated Students Inc., and a wide array of student organizations to make a difference in our community.
“The feeling of making an immediate impact is satisfying, and there’s a strong awareness that many of our students are food and/or housing-insecure. It’s an urgent need and this is our community stepping up to participate in addressing the challenges our students face.”
The entire extended Stanislaus State community is invited to support Campus Cares. Learn more by visiting our website.