Resources for Those Facing Food and/or Financial Insecurity

I’ve recently learned something that really upset me: The 2016 Undergraduate Experience Survey by the University of California found that 44% of undergraduate students attending the eight University of California campuses face food insecurity.

This was in 2016, this was the entirety of the University of California system, and they found that nearly half of students were facing this issue. Now, maybe the issue has gotten better over the past three years, but I know for a fact that there are still a lot of people facing food insecurity – and any amount above zero is still too many.

When I think about how many students walking around campus – probably even some of my friends – are food insecure, it makes me want to put all of them on buses headed straight to my grandparents’ house (because nobody starves when Tom and LaVawn are around). However, given that that’s not feasible at all, I thought that maybe talking to someone with more knowledge and more reasonable solutions would get me a little farther in my mission to do something about this.

So, I reached out to the Director of the ASUCD Pantry. If you’re not familiar with The Pantry, it’s an on-campus resource located in the MU (right across from the bookstore) that UC Davis students can utilize to get free food, no questions asked. The service began in 2010 and has been feeding the student population ever since.

Below are the questions I asked Pantry Director Ryan Choi and the amazing answers he provided:

How often are students allowed to come to The Pantry?

Once per day.

How many items can they take?

Students get a limit of 5 items per day.

Are there any non-food items available for students who may be in need of other necessities?

Yes, there are non-food items available such as menstrual hygiene products and condoms.

For someone who might be nervous to come to The Pantry, can you walk them through the process?

The process at The Pantry is similar to shopping at a grocery store. For anyone who might be nervous to stop by, here's a quick rundown of how The Pantry works. Students come in and are given a limit of 5 items per day excluding the produce items. The items you can typically find at the Pantry include baked goods like bread, canned foods, bars, oatmeal, cereal, snacks like chips, beans, rice, produce, juices, and hygiene products. The Pantry is similar to grocery shopping in that students can browse the shelves and pick their items themselves. Once you’re done picking out your items, our Pantry staff will assist you in checking out with your student ID number and the number of items you have picked up. This checkout system is used to help Pantry coordinators figure out how many students The Pantry serves. If you are ever need of assistance while utilizing The Pantry, feel free to ask the staff.

What are some unique features of The Pantry?

It is completely student run.

What other resources are there for students who are facing food insecurity?

On Campus Resources for food insecure students: 

  • Calfresh application assistance:
    •  EOP drop in: Fridays 11-1 PM, Aggie Compass drop in: M-F 9-5 PM
  • Fruit and Veggie Up! 
    • M and F 11 AM-1 PM, MU first floor 
  • Queer Trans Mini Pantry in LGBTQIA center 
  • Drop-in at the Financial Aid Office for economic crisis services
    • Monday - Friday 10 AM - 2 PM, 1100 Dutton Hall
    • Request assistance online by emailing the Economic Crisis Team at [email protected]. Expect a response within 24–48 hours, Monday–Friday
  • Student Emergency Relief Aid 
    • The awards are meant to cover short-term needs that are not covered by other assistance. Some examples of need may be tuition, rent, medical treatment, or other necessities that may hamper a student from succeeding academically or from meeting their basic needs. The awards come from donations by students, alumni, and friends to the Students Helping Students fund.
  • Aggie Meal Share Program 
    • Facilitated in partnership with UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services, the Aggie Meal Share program provides meals for students in need of assistance.
  • Solano Park Pantry 
    • A graduate student resource, Solano Park Pantry is typically open for non-perishable food items, Monday through Friday from 12:30–1 PM. Fresh food from the Davis Farmers Market is available every Saturday. 
  • The Belfry’s Essentials Pantry 
    • offers students personal hygiene items such as deodorant, toothbrushes, menstrual care products, and other toiletries which are essential and often expensive.
  • Fruit and Veggie Map
  • Food Access Map
  • All pEOPple Eat @ Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
    • All students (regardless of EOP status) can pick up FREE fresh fruits and vegetables from the EOP Cottage every Thursday from 2 PM - 3:30 PM. 
    • These vegetables are harvested at the UC Davis Student Farm the morning of!

Community resources & other helpful info: (not necessarily UCD affiliated)

  • MultiFaith Living Community
  • Free Bites app – People post food giveaways on campus daily 
  • Freedge locations: 
  • Davis Night Market 
    • Central Park at the picnic tables, downtown Davis, dates and times vary but usually late at night Tuesdays and Thursdays
    •  Recovers food from restaurants that anyone can stop by and pick up 
  • Eat Well Yolo at Center for Families
    • Items available: Fruits and Vegetables
    • 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of every month, 10AM-3PM
    • Note: They do not provide bags to carry food.
    • 441 D St, Davis, CA 95616
  • Davis Food Not Bombs meal program – free, hot vegetarian meal.
  • Davis Community Church 
    • Free meals on the 1st Sunday of every month from 12:00 PM. The meals are served at 412 C Street 
  • Eat Well Yolo
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) – EFAP bags are monthly bags of groceries and are available to students who qualify. 
    • Must be a Yolo County resident and meet income requirements, you can receive services once a month
    • 3rd Wednesdays of the Month, few locations
  • Friday's Harvest
    • Distributes fruits, vegetables, and bread.
    • 1 - 2PM at Davis Korean Church, 603 L St., Davis
  • Pole Line Road Baptist Church
    • Distribution of canned and dry goods
    • Must be a Davis resident
    • You can receive the services once a month
    • Thursdays from 9 - 11AM at Pole Line Road Baptist Church, 770 Pole Line Rd., Davis
  • Davis Community Meals
    • Davis Community Meals offers a free meal on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5:45 to 6:30PM, and lunch on Saturday, 11:30AM to 12:15PM, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 640 Hawthorn Lane, Davis.
  •  Yolo Food Bank –  several distribution days and times 
  • Davis Community Meals Program
    • Free meals on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:45 to 6:30 PM. and lunch on Saturday from 11:30 AM to 12:15 PM. 
    • Participants often include seniors, low-income and homeless individuals, and families. Everyone is welcome. 
    • The meals are prepared and served at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, located at 640 Hawthorn Lane, Davis, CA 95616.
  • STEAC provides assistance to low-income residents of Yolo County. Their goal: Help provide everyday needs for the most vulnerable residents.
    • FOOD PACKS FOR KIDS: This program provides a weekend bag of food to elementary and high school students who participate in the School Lunch Program. It is designed to help children stave off hunger over the weekend so they come to school Monday morning well-nourished and able to focus.
    • HOLIDAY ADOPT-A-FAMILY: Food and gifts are donated by community members to low-income Davis individuals and families during the December holiday season.
    • EVICTION PREVENTION: STEAC provides rental assistance to keep low-income residents from being evicted.
    • FIRST MONTH'S RENT: STEAC provides cash assistance to help pay for first month's rent for long-term housing.
    • UTILITY ASSISTANCE: Cash assistance is given to prevent utilities from being turned off or to have them restored.
    • One remaining food project pick up date: December 14th at STEAC food closet.
  • Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee (STEAC) - Distribution of canned and dry goods.
    • You must be referred by Davis Community Meals and Housing, 1111 H St., Davis.
    • Call 530-753-4315 for more information.
    • You can receive the services once a month.
  • For students impacted by the recent fires, or other federally declared natural disasters, please email [email protected].  
    • To help better assist you, please include the following in your email: student ID, circumstances regarding your financial need, and, if applicable, any supporting documentation to help expedite the review process.
  • Emergency and Short-Term Loan Programs

Other Resources:

  • Teaching Kitchens, Free Cooking Classes – All cooking classes are designed with the busy student in mind. The classes provide food preparation and cooking skills, nutrition education and meal suggestions.
  • Mini Course – This course will boost your nutrition, cooking, and healthy living knowledge. Each self-paced topic takes 5-10 minutes to complete.
  • Produce Guide, Tips and Ideas
    • Seasonal Produce Guide – This guide can help you explore different fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather. Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried all counts.
    • MyPlate 10 Tip Series – Build your healthy eating style and maintain it for a lifetime. This series provides you with lots of information, including how to shop on a college budget, building a healthy meal and eating at the dining hall

Last, for those who want to get involved in the fight against food insecurity, where should they start?

One of the best ways to fight food insecurity on campus is through volunteering at the ASUCD Pantry. Hundreds of students receive food from The Pantry daily. We are proud to be the only resource in Davis without tricky applications and requirements that provides health-conscious, nutritious food all 7 days of the week. Volunteers are selected and assigned shifts by or before the first week of every quarter or summer session, occasionally throughout the quarter depending on need. Please email [email protected] to see if we are recruiting volunteers and to get the application link.

Please also check out this Aggie Compass resource for additional resources suggested by the school. Get involved if you can, take advantage if you need. If anything was left out of this article, please do not hesitate to email [email protected] and we will update this article!

Support your fellow Aggies (and people in general)!