By Juan Calvillo
Though East Los Angeles College’s administration takes steps to tackle food insecurity on campus, Monika Rueda, a current ELAC student, is compelled to do her part.
She distributes food to students in need across from the Helen Miller Library every other Tuesday.
She spoke with Cecilia Cruz, coordinator for the student Health Center, and asked what was the most immediate course of action she could take.
“She [Rueda] approached me saying she felt bad about all the problems with food insecurity on campus, and she wanted to do something,” Cruz said.
Rueda said she first learned of the homeless and hunger situation on campus during one of her classes.
She said the professor asked students not to eat in front of other students because not every student has the chance to have food on a daily basis.
Rueda said she didn’t really understand what the teacher meant by her comment. She approached the professor and asked for clarification and was told about the food insecurity and homeless situation on campus.
Rueda said she was moved by the situation and said that in Latin culture, feeding people and having food in the home was important.
She said her family always had enough growing up, and seeing what was happening on campus made her want to help.
After the meeting with Cruz, Rueda decided to buy food that is both filling and simple to make for students. She chose oatmeal and fresh fruit to start off, as well as coffee.
Rueda spent her own money to help ELAC’s students for the first outing. “I’ll fund it,” Rueda said. Wanting to do more, she asked for help to continue her service to ELAC students from fellow marines.
Rueda is part of the East Los Angeles Marine Corp League detachment 1347 where she is a chaplain.
She met the group sometime after her discharge from the marines. Rueda went to the league and brought up the idea of helping students. “We have to feed into our future,” Rueda said.
Guadalupe Anaya, whose husband was a marine corporal, is a member of Rueda’s detachment and helps her distribute food to students. She said finding out that so many young people are going without some type of food was surprising.
Anaya said students on campus are happy and thankful for the food that Rueda’s group has been offering.
“It feels good to hear them say that because you know you’re doing something rewarding,” Anaya said. She said that Rueda’s enthusiasm was infectious and makes the group at the league excited to help those in need at ELAC.
Other groups across ELAC have also started helping students with food issues. The Associated Student Union has a food pantry, and other clubs on campus regularly have food at their events.
“Recently, student services have been offering lunches,dinners scantrons and snacks. So whatever department can do it, it’s helpful to our students…Anything we can do to support them is good,” Cruz said.
Rueda said the league is actually starting their own fundraiser to help feed students.The fundraiser will take place on Saturday from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at the HomeTown Buffet on 875 N. Wilcox Avenue, in the city of Montebello. For more information check out the leagues instagram @detachment1347mcl.
“All the funds, one hundred percent of this, is coming to that table. We’re not keeping any of it. It’s all going to the breakfast (table), everything,” said Rueda.
Rueda said that she would like for this type of service to expand to other colleges someday. The league meets at the American Legion building at 4615 East Cesar E. Chavez Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90022.
The breakfast food is given out from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. across from the library in the main campus.
Rueda and her crew will be giving food out on the following dates: March 10, March 24, April 14, April 28, May 12 and May 26. She also plans on being on campus during finals week.