Holiday meals for homeless


Graphic by Alex Torres.

Ashley Balcaceres, Reporter

Kern County has seen a 50% increase in the number of homeless people since last year, according to a report done by the Kern County Homeless Collaborative. The number of people becoming homeless seems to be increasing as the years go on. There are various services available to the homeless community, but not enough funding or donations to help everyone. Providing help is critical during the holiday season as the weather becomes colder.  

  There are several community organizations that arrange holiday meals, fundraising drives, and other ways to help the homeless community. The various volunteers for these organizations and the organizations themselves donate their time and effort so that everyone can have the best possible holiday season every year.   

  Louis Gill the executive director of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, mentions that this community, especially during the holiday season, shine the most. Gill maintains that not all communities are like Kern County communities, and what makes this place unique is how many people are willing to help when they can.  

  During the holidays the shelters, centers, and churches hold events for the homeless population, like drives to help collect nonperishable and fresh food, hygiene products, and warm clothes and blankets. Many serve meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

  The Mission at Kern County is one of the community agencies making an effort to help the less fortunate all that they can, be it through shelter services, clothing, education, or meals. Their mission statement is “To offer an environment conducive to the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of the people we serve by providing hope and a future through Jesus Christ.” The Mission at Kern County is located on 816 East 21st Street, and will host a Community Thanksgiving Meal starting at 11 a.m., Nov. 28.  

  The Bakersfield Homeless Center also serves a dinner on Thanksgiving that is open to the homeless community. They are located at 1600 E. Truxtun Avenue and their mission statement is To provide support and resources to families and individuals in crisis while helping them to achieve their highest level of self-sufficiency.” Gill also mentions that there are other opportunities for helping the homeless community during the holiday season. There are domestic shelters which, while not open to the public, will celebrate with the families inside and the various churches around town which will be handing out food and other supplies. 

  The Bakersfield Veterans Affairs Vet Center is another organization that helps in the community, especially homeless and struggling veterans. A representative at the Vet Center said in a phone call that it seems like they will not be doing anything for the homeless veterans or veterans in general this year, as they do not have the funding needed. In the past, the Vet Center has given out food baskets to those who have needed them during the Thanksgiving holiday.  

  CSUB is no stranger to homelessness or people suffering. “Forty percent of the school population struggle with food insecurity and about 11% are at risk of being homeless during the course of the academic year,” Jason Watkins, assistant director for Programs and Services at CSUB, reports in an email. There are various services available to staff, faculty, and students, such as the Food Pantry, where they give food every day of the week to anyone with a CSUB ID. University President Lynnette Zelezny also mentioned at the Homeless In Bakersfield event on Nov. 14 that CSUB offers temporary housing to students who have lost their homes. 

  Chair of the Board of Associated Students, Inc. Candice Livingston says that as of right now, she has not heard of any on campus event for the Thanksgiving holiday, but that CSU Bakersfield students might change that by discussing it at the next Runner Walk and Talk event with President Zelezny on Thursday Nov. 21 at 2 p.m.