Congresswoman holds listening session on students’ basic needs at Chaffey College | News

Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-35th District) recently visited Chaffey College’s main campus in Rancho Cucamonga to hear from students facing food and housing insecurity.

Students joined her at the Center for Cultural and Social Justice and shared their experiences and challenges as they pursue a college degree.

“All students, not just those from certain zip codes, should be able to thrive in school. However, a student worried about keeping a roof over their head or affording a meal on their table is a student distracted from learning,” Torres said. “The stories shared with me by Chaffey College students underscore exactly why Congress must ensure federal resources support colleges and universities in meeting the basic needs of their students. My Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act will ensure a college degree is accessible to all.”

According to a 2023 survey conducted by the HOPE Center for Chaffey College, 67 percent of respondents reported that they have experienced at least one of the following: food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness. In addition, 29 percent of respondents also reported that they have utilized emergency grant funds at the school. The survey suggests that more must be done to connect students to existing emergency funds and federal benefits, Torres said.

Zachary Grimes, a student studying psychology at Chaffey, shared how federal programs have supported his academic career, saying that “[federal assistance] had a huge impact, it made a big difference on the way that I operated and the way that I felt going through my day-to-day life. When I had the financial aid, I was able to focus on my school and classes and not worry about money, allowing me to absorb and learn the information I was being taught in class.”

Torres is preparing to reintroduce her BASIC Act. This legislation would invest $1 billion to meet students’ basic needs, including food, housing, health care, and transportation, and help connect students to federal aid programs.

As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee — which oversees all government funding — Torres has supported funding for Department of Education programs, including Federal Work Study and Pell Grants, to help students pay for college and support their basic needs.

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