Solving UC Davis’ food insecurity problem
After having to strip a first-grader of his lunch this week, a cafeteria employee in the Canon McMillan School District has quit her job in protest of the district’s new ‘lunch shaming’ system.
The district, located just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has implemented new policies revoking students’ meals if they are over $25 in meal debt. As required by state law, indebted students from kindergarten to sixth grade are given a supplemental meal — a cheese sandwich — while older students receive nothing.
These actions by the Canon McMillan School District have left many young students teary-eyed and humiliated and have opened up a space for a greater dialogue on the matter of food insecurity, which should prompt UC Davis to take further measures to combat the issue..
The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “a state in which consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”
Results of a survey completed in 2015 showed that of the 9,000 students across the UC system who participated, 19 percent of them suffered from “very low” food security, while another 23 percent reported feeling “low” food security. UC Davis in particular has put great efforts into combating these numbers with initiatives that make food more accessible for its students and alleviate food insecurity.
The University of California Global Food Initiative, launched in 2014 to “sustainably and nutritiously” feed an ever-growing world population, utilizes the research-powerhouse capabilities of UC schools to “help individuals and communities access safe, affordable and nutritious food.”
UC Davis has received $375,000 in grants thus far through the initiative out of the total $3.3 million that UC President Janet Napolitano has pledged to the issue through 2018.
The initiative will deviate to pre-existing food access resources on campus like the ASUCD Pantry, located in Lower Freeborn, which offers all students free meals and grocery items on weekdays, and Fruit and Veggie Up!, a program that — through the Pantry and at the Student Health and Wellness Center — provides free produce to UC Davis students.
Budget allotment also allows for the revamping and wider publicizing of Aggie Food Connection (AFC), an “online access point for UC Davis information, resources and services pertaining to food security and nutrition.”
The Editorial Board would like to commend UC Davis for prioritizing and pushing for initiatives that combat food insecurity and promote food access for all its students.
While UC Davis does its part in alleviating this problem, students can also take action by donating to the Pantry and participating in the ASUCD Pay It Forward campaign spearheaded by ASUCD senator Adilla Jamaludin.
We hope UC Davis will continue to add to the nutrition resources on campus and diminish the number of students that experience any level of food insecurity. Students should not have to compromise their academic performance because they’re worried about where their next meal is going to come from.