University Times

Campus task force seeks to combat food and housing insecurity

Administration introduces new efforts for food insecurity and homelessness

Photo by ASI CSULA.

Photo by ASI CSULA.

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Everyone knows their basic needs for survival: food, water, and shelter. It may be surprising to find out that a significant portion of CSU students lack these basic amenities. A study recently published by Dr. Rashida Crutchfield, showed that 1 in 10 CSU students are homeless. Both shocking and appalling, this problem was quickly addressed by the Chancellor’s office.

This past summer Cal State Long Beach held the first California State University Conference to Best Meet the Needs of Housing Displaced and Food Insecure Students. At the conference representatives from all 23 CSU campuses learned more about the issue at hand and discovered innovative ways they could make changes on their campuses.

Following the conference, the idea for the Food Insecurity / Displaced Students Task Force on campus, chaired by Dr. Stephen Fleischer and Dr. Jennifer Miller, was introduced. Currently, the Task Force is working on creating a food pantry for Cal State LA students. Before they begin, however, they need approval from the Cal State LA Environmental Health and Safety board and from the University.

The Task Force expects the food pantry to be up and running within the next year. “The idea is that since it’s a University initiative, it will come through eventually,” said Zitser, a student representative serving on the Task Force committee.

Zitser currently serves as an Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) representative for the College of Natural and Social Sciences and as a member of the Environmental Policy committee.

This past summer, he attended the housing displacement and food insecurity conference at Cal State Long Beach. Upon his return, ASI recommended him to serve on the Task Force. “Homelessness and food insecurity, in general, are nationwide issues. In the college setting, they’re just more localized and affecting us,” said Zitser.

According to Zitser, a recent Task Force initiative proposed by Dr. Jennifer Miller and Leticia Gomez  looked into the use of CalFresh grants to produce student internships. These internships would permit students to work at the Task Force food pantry, engaging fellow students one-on-one.

Another proposition for the food pantry would be to hire fully trained staff to run the operation.

Before then, however, the Task force must work out ways to restock food supplies. They are considering partnerships with companies for food shipments or with local food pantries.

While there are no student positions at this time on the Task Force board, students are encouraged to fill out the Food and Housing Security survey sent out by the Vice President for Student Life in a campus-wide email.

This information helps the Task Force profoundly, giving them the necessary information to make more informed choices.

“Every student should have gotten an email already. They just have to fill out the survey and then we use that data to see what students need, whether it’s better food options or better housing options, or maybe both. Or maybe our campus is unique and doesn’t need any of that,” said Zitser.

Zitser also encourages students to donate food and volunteer at the food pantry when it finally comes rolling into campus.

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