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Around Town: Cubberley deadline fast approaching; Stanford puts food pantry to the test

Also, Palo Alto man among 20 castaways in upcoming season of 'Survivor'

In the latest Around Town column, the pressure is sinking in for the city and school district to decide the future of Cubberley Community Center, Stanford University is addressing its food-insecure community through a pilot program and a local man is vying to become the next "Survivor."

CUBBERLEY DIPLOMACY ... While grand improvements at the aged but treasured Cubberley Community Center are, at best, years in the future, the city and the Palo Alto school district are starting to feel pressure to reach a more immediate goal for the jointly owned site: Extending the city's lease of Cubberley space from the school district, which expires in December. Both sides have plenty to lose if a deal isn't reached soon — a prospect that could jeopardize the many nonprofits that currently occupy the city-leased portion of Cubberley and leave the school district without a valuable revenue source. Yet, to date, there's been little movement. The City/School Liaison Committee, which includes members City Council and the Board of Education, canceled its Thursday meeting, at which it was set to discuss the lease. The City Council plans to discuss the lease Monday in closed session. The only thing that the two sides had agreed on is a set of "pre-negotiation principles" hashed out by school Superintendent Don Austin and City Manager Ed Shikada. The principles, which Austin released earlier this month, acknowledge that the two sides are not on the same timeline when it comes to Cubberley's redevelopment. They also underscore that, despite all prior talk of building housing and sharing art and exercise facilities at Cubberley, the district has "no interest or ability to provide funding for buildings not directly constructed for the immediate use of serving students within the charge of our school district mission and purpose" and "no interest in pursuing housing on the Cubberley site." The city has an interest in providing "long-term stability" to Cubberley users and in investing in Cubberley in a manner that will "have long-term benefit for the community," according to the principle sheet. The principles also call for a joint session to discuss the 35-acre site's future.

FEED THE PEOPLE ... From fresh fruits and vegetables to milk and eggs, several Stanford University students and their families who identify as food insecure are benefiting from a pilot program that provides each household 150 pounds of food for free. A food pantry program run by the university's Residential and Dining Enterprises aims to give healthier options to the eligible households. The first distribution on Aug. 26 drew more than 150 students and their families on a first-come, first-served basis from 1-2:30 p.m. They were allowed to pick up additional food items still available after 2:30 p.m. Any leftover food was given to Residential and Dining Enterprises hourly staff and A La Carte, the mobile food sector of Silicon Valley Food Rescue, which delivers excess food to those in need. At the August event, the university teamed up with San Jose-based nonprofit Second Harvest Food Bank, which brought crates and boxes of food. About 50 Stanford undergraduates, graduate students and staff from Residential and Dining Enterprises volunteered. The next food pantry is scheduled for Sept. 23 and the final one is scheduled for Oct. 28.

THE NEXT 'SURVIVOR'? ... Palo Alto will be represented in the upcoming season of reality competition show "Survivor" premiering on Wednesday. Vince Moua, a 27-year-old Stanford University admissions counselor and alumnus is one of 20 players vying for the coveted "Survivor" title. The show is entering its 39th season under the theme "Island of the Idols," which takes the castaways to Fiji's Mamanuca Islands. In his show profile online, Moua describes himself as "shamelessly me, quick-writted and not-afraid-to-flip-tables," personality traits that could take him far in the game. What pushed him to compete on national television in the first place? "I am here to show minority young folk and people across the word that they matter, that their stories and narratives are important, and they should never doubt their existence regardless of what others say." Moua, who is on the "Lairo" tribe faces stiff competition — the other players this season include Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, professional poker player Ronnie Bardah and Tom Laidlaw, a retired National Hockey League defenseman. In a first for the show, former winners Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine will serve as "idols" for the castaways, teaching them skills and strategies of the game. The duo has competed in a combined 200 days of "Survivor."

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