Mark David Magat
Hundreds of students and community members gathered inside Building 4 of Skyline College last Thursday to participate in the free community market hosted by the SparkPoint center.
At the free community market, students and members of the community are invited to participate in a farmers market-like event, where they can shop for groceries such as fruits, vegetables, and even cereal for free. The director of SparkPoint at Skyline College, Chad Thompson, had more information on why the free community market was started and how he believes it is helpful to the community.
“We had a food pantry here on campus for a long time, but a lot of stu
dents continue to not be aware of it, and we try to get the word out, but you know not everyone hears about it,” Thompson said. “One of the reasons we felt is because we’re kinda tucked away.”
“So one of the reasons that we launched this program is to make the food distribution that we do more visible,” Thompson said. Thompson also said that signing up for the free community market is very easy, as all you need to provide is your name and contact information. The free community market has only been happening at Skyline College for a bit over a month, but was originally located at Sunset Ridge Elementary before it became too large for their space.
According to Thompson, the opening of the free community market at Skyline College was also to address negative stigma that he believes may be associated with taking advantage of opportunities for free food.
“Some people who are aware, who could benefit from it, who would be eligible for it, that maybe they decided not to do it because of what they think people will say,” Thompson said. He stated that one of their goals was to remove this negative stigma, so that people who need it, feel comfortable getting it.
For those interested in volunteering, Thompson stated that contacting the SparkPoint Center is a good way to get involved, or by simply showing up at the free community market if you want to help. SparkPoint is also working on setting up more volunteering opportunities for students in connection with classes, incorporating service learning as part of their education at Skyline College. One of the volunteers for the Free Community Market, Rogelio Mariano said he likes volunteering here. Mariano has been volunteering since the event was located at Sunset Ridge, as well as his wife who joined him a year ago.
“All we do is just volunteer, we’re glad to meet people,” Mariano said. He recommended that other people volunteer as well, as he believes volunteering at the free community market is valuable to do.
The free community market happens every Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Building 4. During rain, the event is moved inside, where free coffee, tea, snacks, games, and information pamphlets are provided. Additionally, SparkPoint attempts to have a nutritionist show up to help explain how best to use the produce.
One attendee at the Free Community Market named Lemmy Boquiren, who recommended attending the event had this to say:
“Free groceries obviously,” Boquiren said in response to a question on what he likes about the Free Community Market. He said that he saw a flier for the event, and this was his second time attending since he first heard about it. Boquiren stated that despite the fact that he feels the lining system is jumbled up, it’s worth going to.
“Even if it’s a long wait, it’s worth it.”