Tag Archives: Char’Tre Steward

Banking on Food

More than 1.5 million Los Angeles residents are suffering from food insecurities. Many of those residents cannot afford to buy food for themselves and their families.

Los Angeles County has one of the largest food insecure populations in the United States. Food insecurity affects not only those who are living below the poverty line. Even families who live above the poverty line deal with the expense of groceries. Hunger can cause people to lose their balance, not function appropriately and effectively, and experience emotional, physical and mental problems.

“Food is an important thing,” M.E.N.D (Meet Each Need with Dignity) Food Bank Director Richard Weinroth said. “[It’s] more than just dinner. When there is no food, life is a struggle. Food is a powerful thing.”

Hunger may threaten nearly 50 percent of college students, and many students report food insecurities. Hunger is a major problem at both two-year and four-year institutions. Nearly 60 percent of food insecure students reported having a job, and almost 40 percent of those students report that they work more than 20 hours or more per week. Researchers from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness found that being enrolled in an on-campus meal plan does not eliminate food insecurity.

“You cannot be a successful student if you are hungry,” said Professor Shira Brown, Director of CSUN’s Women’s Research and Resource Center. “It’s really hard to concentrate on doing just about anything when you’re hungry.”

The WRRC’s Food Pantry is open to all students with an ID, and offers food, as well as basic necessities like shampoo and toothpaste. CSUN students also have access to the CSUN Food Pantry at no cost. And food pantries operate in many locations throughout the San Fernando Valley.  Los Angeles County has almost 200 food pantries: the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, World Harvest Food Bank, L.A Works and many more.

“Everybody at some point may need a food pantry,” said Manny Flores, the Community Liaison of North Valley Caring Services. “And in our neighborhood, it could be mostly at the end of the month, when people need to make ends meets. That’s when you see our pantry lines grow substantially. Through our pantry, you can get a well balanced meal. We’re putting about a hundred dollars of food in our baskets every week per household.”

“I’m really lucky,” Weinroth said. “M.E.N.D has been around for nearly 50 years, so we’ve got a lot of neighborhood recognition. We are a volunteer-driven organization. We have so many pans, and so many pots. We have medical, dental and vision. We have education and training on-site as well. We have the food department, we have homeless services, we have our clothing center. We have been collaborating with so many organizations throughout the community for a very long time. We help feed over 20,000 people a month. We all come together as a community, [because] it takes a village.”

Moderator: Trevor Edwards

Producer: Dana Lites

Anchor: Char’Tre Steward

Social Media Editors: Cynthia Marin and Noemi Salcedo

Reporters: Trevor Edwards, Dana Lites, Cynthia Marin, Noemi Salcedo, Char’Tre Steward and Flor Tolentino

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Transforming Pacoima: One Brushstroke at a Time

The Mural Mile is transforming Pacoima. More than 50 murals are in the area surrounding Pacoima City Hall. Most of the artists who display their work are locals, who say it’s their way of giving back to the community.

“I wanted to paint murals, and there’s no doubt my mind that I wanted to bring it to Pacoima with the idea of changing the face of the neighborhood,” mural artist Levi Ponce said. “I know people have always been painting murals in Pacoima, and there’s always been painters, but I was the one who came about and called it a revolution.”

Many people in Pacoima are contributing to the revolution to help beautify the city in many different ways. The environmental non-profit Pacoima Beautiful has been implementing initiatives to clean up the city since 1996.

“Pacoima, unfortunately, has one of the highest asthma rates in the nation,” said Sandra Ramirez, Cultural Arts Director of Pacoima Beautiful. “We are an environmental justice organization of its own in the community, and … we also do a lot of work around just [to create] access to public spaces and green spaces.”

The art revolution is also gaining momentum; many new artists are emerging to show off their talents to the residents of Pacoima.

“My favorite is painting on the public streets of Pacoima,” artist Desi Sanchez said, “and being able to interact with the people passing by. That’s the best part. Sometimes I’ll try to paint slower, so I have to be out there for more days and make my time longer, because once my painting is over, that’s it, my interaction with the community is done, and that piece is up. But the people they love it. They love seeing someone paint.”

The artists who work on the Mural Mile are asked to go through a selection process through city hall, but some artists say they prefer to defy the process and do their own street art, which is illegal and therefore may be whitewashed and painted over.

“I think when you put something that big up in a public space, there are always going to be opinions,” Ponce said. “Every mural is controversy. You have to push forward, and I always said it’s about the bigger picture. It’s not about any individual mural, it’s about my work as a whole.”

Moderator: Cynthia Marin

Producer: Dana Lites

Anchor: Flor Tolentino

Social Media Editors: Dana Lites and Char’Tre Steward

Reporters: Trevor Edwards, Dana Lites, Cynthia Marin, Noemi Salcedo, Char’Tre Steward and Flor Tolentino

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Millennials, It’s on the House!

Many Millennials are finding it difficult to gain full independence and purchase homes. Steadily becoming the most prominent demographic of people in America, they have surpassed the Baby Boomer generation by around 8 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet Millennials earn 20 percent less than their parents’ generation. Forty-two percent of people age 18-34, according to the Pew Research Center, are living with their parents, which is the highest level since 1940.

“[It’s] the availability of jobs,” said Craig T. Olwert, CSUN Professor of Urban Studies and Planning. “Most of the millennials haven’t found well-paying jobs to help cover the costs [of home ownership]. I think with the recession finally really recovering on the job side, we’re going to see that start changing.”

California Association of Realtors Research Analyst Azad Amir-Ghassemi said the way residences are changing hands is shifting. “We’re going to go into a European model of homeownership,” he said, “where Baby Boomers have their homes, and then they transfer their homes down to their kids.”

Getting a higher education may lower some millennials’ ability to purchase a home. A survey by Amir-Ghassemi found that as many as 25 percent of millennials said that their student loans are keeping them out of home ownership.

The notoriously high cost of living in Southern California only makes matters more challenging.

“The average price of real estate here in Southern California is $472,000,” Sales Manager of Global Premiere Properties Adam Arteaga said. “And to qualify for a home loan like that, you’re looking at an income of almost $90,000.”

That qualification will be difficult for those without good credit. “Usually the banks like to look for a FICO score of about 650 and above,” Arteaga said.

The cost to rent in the Los Angeles area is also becoming not feasible. Research and analysis firm Axiometrics shows the average monthly rate for a one-bedroom apartment in L.A. County is $2,300, and the Inland Empire, it’s over $1,500.

But Arteaga said the situation is looking less dismal than in years prior. “Forty-five percent of all houses sold last year were [to] first-time homebuyers. For what rents are going for right now, you can almost obtain a home mortgage for that.”

Moderator: Noemi Salcedo

Producer: Dana Lites

Anchor: Flor Tolentino

Social Media Editors: Dana Lites and Char’Tre Steward

Reporters: Trevor Edwards, Dana Lites, Cynthia Marin, Noemi Salcedo, Char’Tre Steward and Flor Tolentino

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Safety from Solidarity

Students at California State University, Northridge may have reason to wonder if they’re safe, especially with nationwide campus threats during recent years.
According to the Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data, in 2014 private schools in Southern California such as Loyola Mount University and the University of Southern California, had higher crime rates than two public schools in the area, California State University, Los Angeles and California State University, Northridge.

“I don’t think [private or public] ownership is the factor here,” CSUN Sociology Professor Victor Shaw said. “I think what matters is location and the way the university operates. The location of the University of Southern California happens to sit in the part of the city which is highly problematic.”

CSUN has certain safety programs and measures available throughout campus. Besides the campus police, students may use the Matador Patrol, student escorts available every evening. More than ninety blue emergency lights have been installed all over campus, and the dorms are accessible only to residents with electronic key cards.

“I think our department of police services is particularly concerned with student safety and communicating with students,” Melissa Giles, Associate Director of Residential Life said. “I think the command staff really listens when students have concerns. For such a large campus, CSUN is safe.”

Although CSUN has installed these safety measures, some students say they still feel that campus lighting is an issue when it comes to feeling completely safe on campus.

“In the Campus Safety Ad Hoc Committee, that was an issue that was brought up,” Nick Jackson, Associated Students senator said. “We did have talks with Captain Scott VanScoy, and there are spots on campus that are more populated than others. You’ll see more students going around the USU than you would see near Nordhoff Hall. There’s going to be more lighted areas where there’s more traffic. We’re still trying to get more funding for lights.”

While administrators at Cal State Northridge have made efforts to ensure the safety of students and staff, there are still improvements, being sought by the university, among them more and better communication about what already exists.

“We have so many safety measures built around students that will work, if the students choose to let them work or to work with them,” said Tim Trevan, Director of Student Housing and Conference Services.

Moderator: Dana Lites

Producers: Dana Lites and Cynthia Marin

Anchor: Trevor Edwards

Social Media Editor: Marissa Reyes

Reporters: Trevor Edwards, Dana Lites, Cynthia Marin, Noemi Salcedo, Char’Tre Steward and Flor Tolentino

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