In 2016, Palo Alto College launched a survey campaign to identify the most pressing issues for student retention and learning. The results showed that one of the most pressing issues was food insecurity. This concern caused Palo Alto College to partner with the San Antonio Food Bank to address the issue of student hunger with an on-campus food pantry and Community Garden for both students and community members. The neighborhoods surrounding Palo Alto College are considered a “food desert” — an area lacking access to healthy, affordable food found at grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers. Programming at the garden aims to create a culture of sustainability by including educational components to inform the community about nutrition, gardening techniques, and space is available for community members to grow their own food and increase their food sovereignty. The Community Garden staff have partnered with the Horticulture and Agriculture program to allow students to gain hands-on experiential learning outside of the classroom that prepares them for real-world scenarios.
Presenters: Jennifer Flores, Director of Student Success, Palo Alto College