UC Davis opens up student food bank

UC Davis is no stranger to harsh economic times. With an ailing economy and rising tuition, there is an increasing number of struggling students. A new ASUCD unit aims to help.

UC Davis is no stranger to harsh economic times. With an ailing economy and rising tuition, there is an increasing number of struggling students. A new ASUCD unit aims to help.

The goal of The Pantry is to provide food and basic necessities to struggling UC Davis undergraduates. The Pantry allows students to take up to three items a day by showing up and presenting their UC Davis student identification card.

“We have a very strict no questions asked policy right now,” said Justin Gold, student assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and senior philosophy and political science major. “It should be fairly obvious if students are trying to abuse the system.”

Gold said that many students are struggling and will probably use The Pantry frequently. He noted a report that came out on Nov. 17, which stated that 50 percent of UC Davis students skip meals due to financial reasons.

The Pantry is going to be staffed by a director, assistant director, donations manager and two unpaid interns. All of The Pantry staff will undergo sensitivity training in order to make all students feel comfortable.

The unit will also implement an “adopt a week program” where campus organizations can volunteer at The Pantry for a week. All student volunteers will also undergo sensitivity training.

The Pantry is a collaborative effort on campus between the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and ASUCD. Gold worked alongside Romana Norton, a psychologist from CAPS, Hannah Krishner, member of the External Affairs Commission and junior political science major and Bree Rombi, former ASUCD senator and junior Spanish and communication double major, to develop this unit.

On Nov. 4, the ASUCD Senate unanimously passed a bill to allocate $2,484 from Senate Reserves to fund the project and established it as an official ASUCD unit. ASUCD President Jack Zwald signed the bill the following Friday.

“The Pantry is an excellent idea,” Zwald said. “It’s low cost with high possible benefits to students … I believe the unit is going to perform well.”

So far The Pantry has received a donation of $500 from U.S. Bank, $200 from the Student Assistants to the Vice Chancellor and collected 131 pounds of food from the Cal Aggie food drive last weekend. Gold, Kirshner and Rombi are also working on getting donations from local grocery stores and campus organizations.

Larry Martinez, administrative assistant to the Woodland Costco’s general manager, and Cathy Uhlik, the North Davis Safeway store manager, said that donating would depend on their budget and other donation commitments. Emily McCarthy from Nugget Market said they would most likely not be making any more donations in the near future due to a large commitment to the Food Bank of Yolo County.

The Pantry will be open on Jan. 4 in the basement of Freeborn Hall from noon to 2 p.m., replacing the former barbershop.

“I would encourage students to come because it’s there for students who need meals. We understand that with the current economy and tuition hikes a lot of students are going through that,” Kirshner said.

To get involved or donate to The Pantry, contact Kirshner or Gold at ThePantryatDavis@gmail.com.

JASPREET BAHIA can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.