UC Berkeley Food Pantry partners to eliminate food insecurity on campus
Eliminating food insecurity
Launched in the summer of 2014, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry was created to provide emergency supplemental nutrition support to any university undergraduate or graduate students in need. Since opening, they have been visited over 5,000 times. “We are en route to a record breaking year,” says Ruben Canedo, Food Pantry staff advisor. “The move to MLK Student Union exploded our user counts. Last November we had 342 visits, this November we had 747.”
Unlike some food banks and pantries, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry is focused on addressing public health challenges by providing healthier options for students by offering fresh produce per food pantry visit. Additionally, with a new freezer included in the move to the student union, the Food Pantry can now offer frozen meals as part of the emergency supplemental nutrition support.
Support you can bank on
In 2015, the Food Pantry confirmed a relationship with Bank of the West, the Official Bank of UC Berkeley. The bank provides an average of $40,000 annual funding that is used to support the purchase of fresh produce including organic, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables provided by the Berkeley Student Food Collective.
An 11-member working group of campus faculty, staff and student representatives chose Bank of the West after a competitive proposal process. During negotiations, the working group’s student representatives strongly advocated for Berkeley’s food security program to benefit from the relationship. As a result, the bank helps provide a more stable source of funding that allows the UC Berkeley Food Pantry to stock up on fresh foods as well as increase the number of students it serves. Those in need are helped with good nutrition which results in being more alert during class, the energy to study more effectively, and excel in their on-campus pursuits.
“Without the support from Bank of the West, we would probably provide fresh produce once or twice a month on a first-come, first-serve basis,” says Canedo.
This spring, the bank will roll out their production of reusable produce bags for pantry visitors. The bank is also exploring additional opportunities to support the pantry through volunteer service and campus outreach.
How you can help
Students, faculty, staff and the local community can help support the UC Berkeley Food Pantry in their basic needs security efforts through the Food Pantry donation page. All funding is invested in financial, food, housing and crisis resolution efforts that form their basic needs security model.