On Jan. 11, the Pantry, a student-run program that provides UC Davis students with meals and basic necessities free of charge, marked its one-year anniversary.
Located in 21 Lower Freeborn, the Pantry is brought to students by ASUCD, the Community Advising Network and the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. The program strives to provide non-perishable, high protein food for UC Davis students struggling to pay for meals, as well as such basic necessities as soap, toothbrushes and toilet paper.
“It was clear that there was a demand for a service like the Pantry due to an increased concern about student hunger and the effect that it has on students’ health and wellness,” said Erica Padgett, ASUCD senator and former assistant director of the Pantry. “We see anywhere between 300 to 500 students a week, and although that may be a small number relative to the size of our campus, I believe that no student should have to sacrifice food or other basic necessities due to financial difficulties.”
According to Padgett, the Pantry is a partially subsidized unit of ASUCD. The unit relies heavily on outside donations, both for money and food.
“It’s definitely grown since last year,” said Rosa Gonzalez, director of the Pantry. “Every quarter, it starts out with 15 or 16 individuals a day, and when money starts getting low by the fifth or sixth week, we see a jump in numbers to 100 to 200 individuals per day.”
According to Gonzalez, the top products are currently cereal, tuna, macaroni and cheese, rice, peanut butter, Top Ramen and pasta.
Sophomore animal science major Briana Hamamoto stops by the Pantry every week after class.
“It’s a great place to get a snack in between classes,” Hamamoto said. “It’s one less item I have to pay for at the grocery store. It’s a great resource, and students should really take advantage of it.”
In November, the Pantry was featured on NBC Nightly News in a segment along with another pantry from the University of Central Florida.
“A lot of resources on campus have been very helpful. We have students come to us and say ‘Thank you, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be eating,’” Gonzalez said. “They make it worthwhile.”
STEPHANIE B. NGUYEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.