Since 2015, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) has provided the Sacramento State student body with a campus Food Pantry aimed at decreasing the impact that food insecurity has on the academic success of Sacramento State students. Over 1,000 Sac State students in need were served last academic year, and provided food and toiletries at no cost. Over 32,000 non-perishable food and toiletry items were distributed to students last year, with many of those coming from generous donations from the larger community.
Students face increasing challenges while juggling the costs of living, working, and obtaining their degrees. Many find themselves choosing between basic essentials, such as food and toiletries, and the required costs of tuition, fees, and books. The ASI Food Pantry has seen a 24 percent increase in weekly users, while a recent survey conducted by the CSU system found that 47 percent of students who responded stated that they struggle with food insecurity. This is up from the 2015 survey which found that around 1 in 4 students struggled with food insecurity.
In an effort to provide more healthy options, a few years ago ASI partnered with the Central Downtown Food Basket and Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services to launch a Pop Up Pantry. Taking place around 3 times each month, the ASI Pop Up Pantry provides fresh produce at no cost to Sac State students in need. The program served over 4,800 students in the fall 2017 semester and continues to see increased usage each month. In addition to produce offerings, students have the opportunity to sign up for CalFresh and watch cooking demonstrations from the campus Peer Heath Educators.
With the increase in student need and users, the ASI Food Pantry is excited to announce that an expansion will take place in the 2018-2019 academic year. The Pantry will be relocating to the University Union, which serves as the hub of campus life, once the Union renovation is complete. The new Food Pantry will feature modern shelving and flooring, a commercial refrigerator to provide fresh produce and other perishable items on a regular basis, and a seating area for students. The space will be housed inside ASI’s Student Engagement and Outreach department and directly next door to the Sac State Student Affairs Case Manager’s office and Basic Needs hub.
The ASI Food Pantry is run by Sac State student coordinators Viviana Gonzales and Alyssa Kirk, who manage the day to day operations. Gonzales is a Nutrition and Food Dietetics major and Kirk is a Nursing major. They are joined by Business major Elizabeth Villalobos, who helps to coordinate the Food Pantry marketing and donation efforts.
The pantry relies heavily on donations from members of the greater Sac State community and local businesses. Those interested in donating or volunteering can visit the ASI website for more details about how to support this initiative.