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ASU contributed to Basic Needs Center event

Juan Castellanos met with the student government board to request money and assistance for his National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness event.

By Natalie Metcalf, Valley Life Editor

According to the Los Angeles Almanac, around the central Los Angeles region 26 percent of the population is homeless, 21 percent of the South Los Angeles area and 14 percent of the San Fernando Valley. ( Natalie Metcalf | Valley Star)

The Associated Student Union lent a helping hand –– just in time for Thanksgiving –– to the Basic Needs Center for their National Hunger and Homeless Awareness event. The week-long resource celebration was housed on campus this week.

Juan Castellanos, the basic needs counselor and coordinator at Valley College, discussed the plans with the board on Oct. 25 and Nov. 8, asking them to bring their attendance and funding. ASU showed its support for the event by allocating $1,500 for meal kits. National Hunger and Homeless Awareness week is a national annual event where people can draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness.

“With the help of the ASU, students are not only going to see my team advertising but we’re going to have students advertising this event too,” said Castellanos during the executive council meeting on Oct. 25.

The Basic Needs Center split the event into two days on Zoom and two in person. The first and second days of the event will be on Zoom, as the third and fourth days will be focused on giving food and resources to the hungry and homeless. The two in-person events will contain a food distribution and a resource event –– one day focusing on hunger and the second focusing on housing. The event took place this week from Nov. 14 - 17.

One of the online meetings gave a platform to people who survived homelessness to share their stories. The second meeting was a “basic needs assessment,” where Monarchs discussed their needs to the center and received resources.

As of last week, the basic needs counselor received funding from the board for Every Table meal kit distribution. On Nov. 8 Castellanos asked the ASU for $1,500. The funding went towards food and supplies for hungry and homeless students. One of the vendors the counselor was interested in for the event is Every Table, a meal kit delivery service.

“In order to get the food, they [the student] will have to go to the resources to make sure they are getting what they need,” said Castellanos. “The main goal is to increase resources, access and attention to the matter.”

During the pitch, Erick Portillo, the commissioner of ethnic and cultural affairs, showed his support by mentioning his connections to non-profit organization, Meet Each Need With Dignity. The organization provides housing and food services to low-income families. Previously, Portillo was in contact with the new board of directors and initiatives at the organization. The commissioner was able to receive Volunteers of America’s help tabling the event this week.

“It was like he [Castellanos] had read my mind, as I too wanted to plan a resource fair,” said Portillo.

ASU served food and set up tables and chairs during the event, while also providing the funds to distribute meals to attendees.

“I think our goal when we first started was to plan events that were fun and involved with the students,” said Treasurer Diego Enriquez, in agreement with the National Hunger and Homeless event. “We regret not planning events that are informative and help the community. I think this is a great opportunity.”

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