New food pantry feeds campus community
The Guerrilla Food Pantry is open to all, providing food and other necessities.
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The Guerrilla Food Pantry, which opened its door last Monday, serves free food and other necessities to all students, faculty, and staff at Cal State LA. The pantry is located in King Hall C4036. Its operating hours for the Spring 2017 semester are Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 2p.m. The hours of the pantry depend on the availability of its volunteers.
Bookshelves are converted into makeshift food storage units stocked with cereal, rice, pasta and ramen, canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter and jam, snack items, and more. The pantry also includes non-food items such as diapers. All items come from individual donations.
Anthropology professors Dr. Beth F. Baker and Dr. Jessica Bodoh-Creed saw the immediate need for a food pantry at Cal State LA after speaking with students on campus and reading a study that assessed the rates of food insecurity and homelessness in the CSU system.
According to a 2016 study by Dr. Rashida Crutchfield, professor of Social Work at Cal State Long Beach, 1 in 10 students in the CSU face food insecurity or lack housing. The data also showed around 12% of CSU students are homeless and about 24% lack consistent food sources. The study also states 11 of the 23 CSU campuses have resources to address these needs, such as food pantries and homeless support services. The CSUs that already have food pantries include: Chico, Long Beach, and Northridge.
Baker said that while there were efforts by faculty and student committees to address the issue of food insecurity on campus, “nothing came out of it.” Meanwhile, the CalFresh Outreach Center at Cal State LA is currently developing plans for a food pantry. However, Baker saw an immediate need to fill the gap. “We didn’t want to just talk about it anymore, we wanted to just do it,” she said. Additionally, Baker said there was a need for a pantry which was accessible to students who are not currently enrolled, and to faculty and staff as well.
Surveys were given out to those who receive food or other items from the pantry to assess their needs. Based on these surveys, the pantry has served 35 students as of last Wednesday. Many visitors state that they do not have healthy food on a weekly basis, while some marked that they ‘occasionally’ lacked food and others marked ‘daily.’ The surveys indicate that visitors would like more fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, and toiletries.
“More than anything, Dr. Baker and I care very deeply about our students and their ability to succeed here and in everything they do after they graduate,” says Bodoh-Creed. “Going hungry or suffering from food insecurity should not be among the many things that students already worry about and manage in their lives.”
“There really was a need for a place where students can feel at ease that there is a place they can go to get a quick snack, or meal,” said sociology major Vanessa Escobar. “To attend a university has become so out of reach for some people, and hunger is a serious issue. I am also really glad it is open not only to students, but to staff and professors as well.”
Escobar has completed two shifts at the pantry last week and plans to go grocery shopping for donations. Her purchases for the pantry include items that have come and gone quickly such as peanut butter, bread, crackers, and nuts, as well as hygiene products.
Beatriz Hernandez, a Biology major, also plans to volunteer and donate to the pantry after hearing about it. She will dedicate Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to supporting the pantry.
“I believe the food pantry is needed because we have so many students who are trying to make ends meet,” said Hernandez.
“People have been coming in and saying how they’ve wanted to see something like this on campus for a long time,” said Baker. “It is hard to run it out of my office so it would be great if the university food pantry would serve everyone’s needs. We’re kind of hoping they’ll put us out of business so we won’t need to do this, but as long as there’s a need, we’re gonna keep doing this.”
The pantry is currently seeking volunteers and donations, and can be reached at [email protected]