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Pioneering Food Lounge Offers Santa Monica College Students Affordable Meals
By Jorge Casuso
February 26, 2020 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) students won't be going hungry anytime soon, thanks to a "revolutionary" food lounge that opened on the school's Center for Media and Design campus on Tuesday.
The first-ever Everytable SmartFridge Lounge -- which is a partnership with the SMC Foundation -- offers students affordable meals starting at under $5, school officials said Wednesday.
In lieu of paying rent, Everytable will donate 300 to 500 meals a week to SMC’s new centralized food pantry to provide free meals for "food insecure" students, officials said.
“You’re not going to study well if you’re hungry, and now students have an actual freshly prepared meal that they can eat on campus,” said Sam Polk, CEO of Everytable.
"We are in awe of the courage of so many of these students who often come from underserved neighborhoods, who travel across town every single day, and in many cases, work to support themselves," Polk said.
A survey of college students conducted last April by the Hope Center, found that 45 percent of the 86,000 students surveyed said they were "food insecure."
In addition the the new lounge and centralized food pantry, SMC offers a free lunch voucher program sponsored by its Associated Students, 10 food closets and the opportunity for those eligible to enroll through CalFresh.
Launched in 2015, Everytable reduces the price of meals by having chefs prepare them at a single central kitchen and using tech-enabled, cashierless vending machines, company officials said.
This has allowed the company to provide "made-from-scratch meals priced according to what a specific neighborhood can afford," typically between $5 and $7.
The SmartFridge lounge at SMC -- the first of its kind on a college campus -- features "student-led design elements to help foster community," school officials said.
These include a Community Board curated by students for students and an Art Wall featuring work from students at the Media Center.
The new Everytable Lounge is located in the SMC Center for Media & Design (1660 Stewart Street in Santa Monica 90404) and will be open during school operating hours.
To learn more about Santa Monica College’s food security programs, visit smc.edu/foodsecurity.
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