Professor creates food pantry for struggling students


Dana Tsuri-Etzioni

Dr. Coker moves food into multiple buildings for students who may be going hungry. They can come get food at the pantries for free.

by Dana Tsuri-Etzioni, Managing Editor

Professor and Director of the San Diego State School of Theater, Television and Film, Dr. Niyi Coker, implemented a food security operation this semester to help students in his department. The program allows hungry, low-income students to go into several food pantries located in the drama and communication buildings and pick the food they want – no questions asked. 

“We don’t ask any questions, we don’t need to see an ID,” Dr. Coker said. “Anyone can go in and grab food if they’re hungry.” 

Dr. Coker started the program for TFM students from scratch because he wanted students to be well fed. He said students in the department work hard, some have jobs other than their schoolwork and they have the extracurricular aspect of participating in TFM productions.

About 1000 students are helped through the program every two weeks, Dr. Coker said.

Even though financial aid helps students, it still doesn’t mean food stability is guaranteed, Dr. Coker said. 

“Scholarships help with housing, but they don’t necessarily help with food so a lot of students go hungry,” Dr. Coker said. 

He started the program in the beginning of the semester, but it’s been in the process for about a year because it takes a while to build relationships with companies and get all of the licenses necessary to handle food. 

Professors from the school volunteer every two weeks to help Dr. Coker pick up the food from the grocery stores that are partnered with Feeding San Diego — an organization that connects and distributes food to the community from donors. 

Perishables and non-perishable items are available to students. Perishables are picked up every Friday, and Dr. Coker encourages students to come get the food on Fridays at 3 p.m.