As the world held its collective breath on Thursday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Services department at Orange Coast College was left feeling unprepared for students’ needs in the coming weeks and months.
From the federal government to the Coast Community Colleges District, a perceived lack of information left many in the department unsure about what the future will hold.
According to Anis Wakim, OCC’s Instructional Food Services operations manager, all food services are scheduled to remain open during regular operational hours through at least next week.
“For now, nothing changes unless we hear from the district,” Wakim said, adding that he has been in communication with the district several times a day recently.
However, what will happen over the course of the next week remains to be seen — both on a global and local level.
Erik Fallis, director of Public Affairs and Marketing for the district said officials will follow all guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Orange County Health Care Agency.
However, a lack of direction from the Trump administration and the federal government as a whole left many feeling woefully unprepared for what comes next.
Allison Cuff, a student resource specialist at the Pirates' Cove food pantry on campus, said the facility had been unable to meet the rising needs of low-income students even before the pandemic hit.
Tuan Vo, a Pirates' Cove coordinator, said that the pantry has been working even more closely than normal with community resources like local food banks to address students’ nutritional needs during the pandemic.
He emphasized that he thinks the pre-existing strong sense of community on campus and the spirit of helping others will prevail in these turbulent times.
“At a time like this, we need to come together — to unite. It [COVID-19] makes our campus community come together to stay strong and continue,” Vo said.
Along with personal safety fears, the pandemic is causing dire predictions of a global economic recession with far-reaching consequences.
Michael Peltz, who has owned and operated The Drip coffee cart on campus for 23 years, said he already had grave concerns about the cart’s profitability prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, said the pandemic could be devasting to his personal finances.
“I haven’t been making money — it’s been so slow. Hopefully, some classes will still be in effect [on-campus] so I can have two people there,” Peltz said.
He and his business partner, Scott Cohen, currently employ six people at OCC and also operate a cart at Golden West College.
What some call a breakdown at all levels of government in communicating guidelines about the crisis has directly contributed to rising global panic as supplies like toilet paper and bottled water rapidly disappeared from the shelves of brick-and-mortar and online retailers and queues at grocery stores lengthened.
While Wakim has been in contact with the district via email several times a day recently, the Pirates’ Cove and the coffee cart have yet to be contacted, both owners said.
The Pirates' Cove’s Cuff said the only communication they received came from the district’s information and technology department regarding cybersecurity.
Thomas Seltzer, general manger of Food Services, couldn’t be reached for comment.