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One person, one can make a difference

OCEANSIDE — Concerned about students trying to upgrade their skills or forge a new path on a tight budget, MiraCosta College instructor started a food program called Project One Can, that has now resulted in almost 1,000 cans of food for students most in need.
English as a Second Language instructor Debbie Hanley saw first-hand how some of the students in her classes were struggling to keep food on their families’ tables, so she decided to help.
“A friend of mine recently made the comment that if each of us would donate just one can of food each week to our local food bank, we could make big strides in eliminating hunger in our local community,” Hanley said.. “From that comment, Project One Can was born.”
This summer, 150 ESL, adult basic education and special needs students at MiraCosta College’s Community Learning Center took Hanley’s Project One Can challenge, and pledged to bring one can of food each Thursday for eight weeks. As a result of their efforts, the food pantry at the college went from completely empty to completely full. The food pantry is a space managed by the college’s Student Learning staff and set aside for needy students to come for canned food.
Encouraged by the students’ response, Hanley has expanded the project college-wide. Starting this fall, the MiraCosta College men’s basketball team will be participating in the Project One Can Challenge. They are also going to help Hanley spread the word about the program by putting up signs around campus, bringing storage bins to the Oceanside Campus and then taking the cans to the college’s pantry.
“My motto is: One can make a difference…one can!” Hanley said.
Hanley’s next step will be to expand the project to local high schools, and use the cans collected there to help feed those in need throughout North County.
“This fall I am bringing the project to some of the small high schools in North County and doing the same thing so that the North County Food Bank in San Marcos can be receiving cans in a consistent basis which is so desperately needed in these times,” Hanley adds.
Upon completion of the project last week, students at the Community Learning Center gathered to celebrate their accomplishment of stocking the food pantry, received certificates for their participation and posed for a group photo.
To contact Hanley, e-mail her at [email protected]. To contribute to the food pantry, contact Service Learning Coordinator Carol Wilkinson at [email protected]. Visit to learn more about the project.