The San Diego Food Bank teamed with Cal Coast Credit Union and local community colleges for latest Pack the Pantry food drive. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association raised enough money in its annual Pack the Pantry food drive to provide more than 90,000 meals for local students facing food insecurity, it was announced Monday.

This year’s food drive, organized by the California Coast Credit Union in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank and local community colleges, was entirely virtual due to the pandemic and raised more than $18,000, which will provide a total of 90,600 meals for 10 local community college food pantries.

“Food insecurity can have severe consequences for students,” said Pamela Luster, president of San Diego Mesa College. “It often results in students being late or missing classes, or having to drop out altogether. Thanks to Pack the Pantry, we’ll be able to keep our food pantries stocked, allowing students to focus on their education and not worry about where their next meal may come from.”

According to the community college association, more than 50% of local community college students face food insecurity — meaning they don’t have consistent access to food.

“We are thrilled by the success of Pack the Pantry this year and so proud of the way everyone came together in these difficult times to help our local students,” said Cal Coast President and CEO Todd Lane. “It says a lot about the strength and resilience that makes this such a great community.”

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association is a collaboration between the six community college districts in the two-county area. Member institutions are Cuyamaca College, Grossmont College, Imperial Valley College, MiraCosta College, Palomar College, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, San Diego Miramar College, San Diego Continuing Education and Southwestern College.

Mount San Jacinto College students in Riverside County were also supported in the food drive.

— City News Service