In 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano launched the Global Food Initiative (GFI) to address how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025. In July 2016, guided by the findings of both a University of California-wide in-depth survey and the proposal submitted by the Food Access & Security Committee, President Napolitano approved $3.3 million in new funding over the next two years to help implement the UC Food Access & Security Model. The purpose of the model is to proactively maximize student food security and minimize the number of students in crisis.
The UC Berkeley Food Security Model
Ruben E. Canedo, Research and Mobilization Coordinator for the Division of Equity & Inclusion and Co-Chair of the GFI’s Food Access and Security Committee, has been the committee chair for student food security here at UC Berkeley, system-wide, and nationwide. He regularly travels to other college campuses and conferences on hunger and higher education, discussing the UC Berkeley and UC System Food Security Model, and helping schools adapt strategies to meet their own needs.
UC Berkeley employs several different resources at multiple levels to find collaborative, sustainable ways to respond to the hunger challenge. The model, developed by Canedo and the UC Berkeley Food Security Committee, is comprised of two key efforts: (1) emergency infrastructure and (2) preventive education and outreach.
Developing an Emergency Infrastructure
The UC Berkeley Food Pantry has served over 1,800 individual students since its opening in April 2014. It is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of income status. Funded by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees, the Food Pantry works with the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the Student Organic Gardening Association, and the Berkeley Student Food Collective to stock fresh produce. All food resources are vetted by a campus nutritionist and sourced through Cal Dining.
This year, additional funding from the Global Food Initiative will be used to expand support for the Food Assistance Program, which provides additional financial relief directly into students’ Cal1 Cards for participating food vendors, both on- and off-campus. In Spring 2016, the program was expanded to include graduate students. With a self-help expectation to eligibility, the program is not meant to replace standard financial aid packaging.
Basic Needs Education
The next phase of implementation of the UC Berkeley Food Security Model shifts efforts from focusing on emergency aid to expanding resources for improved nutrition and education for students. For example, the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology has launched an undergraduate course on Personal Food Security and Wellness (NST 20). There are plans to integrate messaging around these issues into admissions and orientation messaging as well as other existing programs, services and initiatives.
The committee is also coordinating a campus-wide campaign to raise awareness of basic needs resources on campus. The primary goal of these long-term efforts is to educate students about the importance of basic needs issues and their impact on student success, as well as equipping community members with tools to recognize early warning signs for students who may be struggling. With the right information, knowledge, and skills, we as a community can work to get students early access to resources and manage student hunger on campus.