How Upward Scholars helps combat food insecurity

After class, Luis takes his lunch, purchased with his Upward Scholars food voucher, to the Cañada library.

After class, Luis takes his lunch, purchased with his Upward Scholars food voucher, to the Cañada library.

Upward Scholars student Luis recently reduced his work schedule from 50 to 25 hours a week, so he’d have more time to study. While Luis’s finances are tight, he knows he’ll never go hungry while at college, thanks to the Upward Scholars food voucher program that enables students to pick up a free breakfast, lunch, and dinner while they’re on the Cañada College campus.

Hunger on Campus, a 2016 study, found that 56 percent of first generation college students are food insecure. Since Upward Scholars food vouchers were first offered a year ago, more than 150 students have participated in the program, which is jointly sponsored by Upward Scholars and the Associated Students of Cañada College.

In addition to saving him time and money, food vouchers afford Luis an additional benefit. “The food vouchers encourage me,” says Luis. “Every time I get a sandwich, it’s a reminder that there are people who want to see my success and the success of my classmates.”

Johanna, who is currently taking her first ESL class on the Cañada campus, uses her food voucher to get lunch on campus before heading off to her job as a cashier at a Mexican restaurant. Johanna says, “The voucher program is great. The food is delicious and healthy. There are many options. Thank you, Upward Scholars, for this program. It helps me a lot.”

Johanna (left) uses her food voucher to get lunch at the Cañada bookstore.  Photo courtesy of Mary Bender.

Johanna (left) uses her food voucher to get lunch at the Cañada bookstore.

Photo courtesy of Mary Bender.


Thirty Upward Scholars students received laptops at February’s laptop celebration, bringing to 173 the number of laptops we’ve awarded to students since the laptop program launched in 2015. Students are eligible for a laptop if they’ve attended college for at least a semester, have good grades, and don’t already own a laptop.

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No more waiting for the computer lab to open, borrowing a friend's computer, or doing homework assignments on their phones. By owning a laptop, student are more productive, are more likely to complete assignments on time, can easily communicate with professors, and can enroll in online classes.

Lorena, a recent laptop recipient who is currently taking English 100 — the equivalent of college freshman English — received a laptop at the February event. Lorena says, “English 100 assigns a lot of essays and online homework. The Upward Scholars laptop is helping me a lot. I take it with me everywhere so I can get my homework done anywhere, like at the library or a cafe. It’s so light, and it charges so fast. Thank you, Upward Scholars, for my laptop!"

The February 22 Upward Scholars laptop celebration.                                                                                                                                   Photos courtesy of Upward Scholars student Marta Marcos.

The February 22 Upward Scholars laptop celebration.

Photos courtesy of Upward Scholars student Marta Marcos.

Tania Ventura