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Associated Students Food bank
Quote from Michael Young F


ollowing a new trend on our nation’s campuses, this spring Associated Students launched UCSB’s first campus food bank to support students in need. Early in the 2010-2011 academic year, increasing anecdotal reports about UCSB students struggling to make ends meet led staff, faculty, and student government officers to join forces to assess the situation on our campus.

Associated Students (AS) President Paul Monge-Rodriguez and Commissioner for Student Services Guadalupe Cruz led the charge, distributing a financial need survey to all registered students. “We wanted to assess the degree of hunger UCSB students are facing,” said Monge-Rodriguez. “Over 2,000 students participated in the survey, far more than usual for our surveys. Students were responding in the hundreds that they were skipping meals on a daily basis to be able to afford school expenses.” Monge-Rodriguez said it’s not a coincidence that AS is starting the food bank now: “This is closely tied to the budgetary circumstances with UC and the state.”

“It’s hard to believe that some of our students are in such circumstances that they lack basic necessities, but it is an unfortunate reality,” said Michael Young, UCSB’s vice chancellor for student affairs. “These are very difficult times – even for UCSB students. The Associated Students Food Bank is a much-needed service and just another example of how caring UCSB students are. They watch out for one another and support one another. We have a strong sense of community here at UCSB that inspires students to be generous to one another, as well as generous to people across the world and at home.”
From early announcements about its opening, the food bank received a flood of support from students, faculty, and staff. In addition to monetary donations via PayPal, the food bank has been collecting items via donation bins available in multiple campus locations. By the end of spring quarter, it had received over 5,000 food and toiletry items, 50 percent of which were donated by the fraternity and sorority community, followed by a sizable donation of over 700 pounds of non-perishables from Isla Vista’s GIVE fundraiser.

Additionally, a portion of this year’s Senior Class Gift and UCSB Alumni Association funds were generously earmarked to support AS Food Bank operations into the coming year.

UCSB staff and student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “Student Affairs staff are thrilled to have one more tool in their arsenal of resources for students in financial need. AS has done a great job of providing an accessible, no-questions-asked option for our students,” said Debbie Fleming, senior associate dean of students. “We want students to understand that there is a lot of support for them here and they shouldn’t hesitate to make use of it.”

Students seem to be catching on. From its launch on April 19 until the end of spring quarter, food bank traffic grew from 5 to 55 visits per week and is expected to increase as outreach to specific departments and student populations continues.

Centrally located on the third floor of the University Center, the food bank is open two days a week (including summer) to all registered UCSB students. To learn more about AS Food Bank, including hours of operation, visit http://www.as.ucsb.edu/foodbank.

— This story was originally published in Student Affairs Campus Connections newsletter.







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