Learn About Pima Community College’s Aztec Resource Center and Food Pantry

By Rebecca Ursule

Photo courtesy of the Aztec Resource Center and Food Pantry

Pima Community College has a food pantry open to all students. The Aztec Resource Center and Food Pantry (ARC) at PCC play a crucial role in supporting students, faculty and staff by addressing campus food insecurity and offering a range of services and initiatives aimed at holistic student well-being. Its services include:

  1. Food and Hygiene Assistance

 The ARC offers food bags containing essential pantry items, hygiene products and referrals to external resources as needed. These bags, weighing between 8-10 pounds, are available weekly and comprise non-perishable items such as pasta, canned goods, proteins and hygiene supplies like shampoo and conditioner.

  1. Special Events and Initiatives

Health and Wellness Resource Event (fall and spring semester event): This event connects PCC with social service-related partners to learn about low-income, health and wellness-related programs. These resource events provide concrete resources and keep the ARC team invested in a future in which they offer more student-accessible spaces on campus, trauma-informed settings to provide a welcoming environment to meet students where they are, co-located agency services and an expanded presence throughout PCC’s various campuses.

Annual Thanksgiving Bag Event: Yearly, students are given an additional bag during a week in November that includes supplemental items essential to making a Thanksgiving dinner. Items include, but are not limited to turkey/ham/vegetable platter vouchers, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling, biscuit mix and more.

  1. Special Initiatives

Refugee Education Program (REP) Initiative: With partial funding support from the Arizona Food Bank Network and in a collaborative effort between the ARC and PCC’s Adult Basic Education for College & Career (ABECC), as well as external partners such as Iskashiita Refugee Network and Grantstone Supermarket, the REP Initiative is designed to provide culturally responsive food and services to Pima’s refugee students.

Veterans Center (at Aviation) Initiative: Although no longer active, this 2022-2023 Arizona State University intern-led project provided food bags to veterans studying in the aviation program.

  1. Learning Lab and Career Development:

The ARC also serves as a learning lab for students through practical and experiential learning. The program functions as a social services-driven center for excellence promoting civic engagement among students and their community while cultivating a culture of caring. ARC operates within the social services department and social sciences, humanities and education divisions. 

The ARC Learning Lab model provides an accessible, college-wide opportunity across all disciplines for students to extend classroom learning theory into practice. It engages students in the PCC Social Services Program (SSE), ASU Social Work Program (BSW) and related degree programs. It also provides opportunities for students in other disciplines, including but not limited to business, economics and health-related professions.

The ARC is also providing career training and educational opportunities for PCC and ASU (BSW) students in a social services direct-practice setting. Interns and volunteers participate in all aspects of the ARC’s operations and demonstrate skills applicable to a career in social services/social work, such as:

  1. Direct service provision
  2. Resource management
  3. Ethics and reducing stigma in practice
  4. Trauma-informed care
  5. Grant writing
  6. Community organization
  7. Fundraising 

The ARC Learning Lab environment also introduces and/or reinforces students’ career and job readiness skills such as:

  1. Effective communication
  2. Adaptability
  3. Time management
  4. Professionalism in the workplace
  5. Problem-solving
  6. Critical thinking
  7. Innovation
  8. Organization

Impact and Growth

The ARC’s impact is tangible, reflected in its increasing outreach and effectiveness:

  • Demand Surge: Over time, the ARC has experienced a significant increase in student encounters and pounds of food distributed. For instance, between spring 2023 and fall 2023, there was a 300% rise in both student encounters and food distribution, showcasing the growing need for ARC’s services.
  • Anticipated Growth: The ARC anticipates a 400% increase in student encounters in spring 2024, highlighting the ongoing relevance and necessity of its support programs.

Accessing ARC Services

Students can access ARC services by presenting their student ID or A number along with their Pima student email address to receive weekly food bag distributions, snack choices and hygiene products at designated campus locations. This ensures convenience and confidentiality for students seeking assistance.

Locations and Contact Information

The ARC Resource Center and Food Pantry operate at two main campus locations:

  • West Campus: Santa Rita Building (A), Room A-G26 (near Follett Café), 2202 W. Anklam Road, Tucson, AZ 85709
  • Desert Vista Campus: Pueblo Building, Room A-106 (next to the Faculty Resource Center), 5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz, Tucson, AZ 85709

Hours may vary, so students are encouraged to check online for the most current information at pima.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/arc. For inquiries or assistance, students can contact the ARC at [email protected] or call 520-206-6720.

The Aztec Resource Center and Food Pantry at Pima Community College exemplify the institution’s commitment to student welfare, providing not just food and hygiene assistance, but also invaluable learning opportunities and career development resources. As the ARC continues to grow and adapt to evolving student needs, it remains a cornerstone of support and empowerment for the PCC community.