UC Davis students learn about food resources in Davis, Yolo County
The first Aggie Food Connection Fair, coordinated and hosted by ASUCD Senator Daniel Nagey, was held on May 17. The event showcased healthy food resources both on and off campus. Nagey, a second-year managerial economics and psychology double major, came up with the idea of the fair after looking for different ways to address the issue of food security on campus.
“I noticed that [with] a lot of students who were food insecure, the biggest problem was locating resources on campus,” Nagey said.
Nagey found that of over 70 resources located in Yolo County, students used, on average, only one or two of them. The Global Food Initiative (GFI) is a UC-wide effort to address food security, health and sustainability for the rapidly growing world population. Aggie Food Connection is UC Davis’ online access point for UC Davis students to obtain information, resources and services pertaining to food security and nutrition. Nagey worked with GFI and his adopted unit, the ASUCD Pantry, to establish connections with different resources, extending off campus as well.
“At the Pantry, you only get three points, and if you use all three points for one purchase that gets you a bag of pasta that maybe lasts you a couple of meals,” Nagey said. “That’s not enough to cover seven days a week. Even if you went to the Pantry every day, you’re still getting very minimal amounts of food and the quality is not super high as well.”
Nagey believed that a fair would allow students to see all of the resources available to them consolidated into one place.
Shannon Lin, a fourth-year clinical nutrition major, is a marketing/GFI intern at Aggie Food Connection. Lin and her colleagues at Aggie Food Connection work on tabling at important student events, such as Decision Day and We Are Aggie Pride events, in order to spread the word about the organization.
“[Food security is] kind of a sensitive topic and there’s like a negative stigma behind it,” Lin said. “We just try to get the information out there to all the students no matter who they are. We’re hoping that through reaching out to as many people as possible, it’ll eventually get to the people that need it.”
Lin worked with marketing to find promotional materials for the event and contacted organizations to donate or table at the fair.
“We have so many resources on campus,” Lin said. “I think it’s kind of sad that our students that might need these resources don’t know about all these resources on campus and even around the city of Davis.”
Since many organizations are volunteer-based and underfunded or understaffed, only 22 organizations were able to table at the event. Some on-campus resources included the ASUCD Pantry, Fruit and Veggie Up and Goodness Grows. Goodness Grows is a program at UC Davis Stores that allows students to use a debit card or Electronic Benefit Transfer card to order a box of fresh, local produce for $8 that is delivered to the bookstore for students to pick up twice a month.
The UC Davis Mental Health Initiative also tabled at the fair in order to spread awareness of the effects that food insecurity can have on students’ mental health.
“One of the most prevalent issues in the college population is food insecurity which is coordinated with depression and is known to have an effect on some developmental and social skills,” said Kristine Bragado, a third-year bio-psychology major, via email.
Yolo County members tabled at the fair to register students for CalFresh (federally known as SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a federally mandated nutrition program to help households get healthy food. The UC Davis Bookstore will now be the first on campus location where students can register for EBT. The EBT Project is a system used in California for accessing public assistance programs such as CalFresh.
“The biggest thing with CalFresh is that it’s really complicated and really hard to register,” Nagey said. “Students said there’s a lot of info you need to provide, a lot of forms. I think there’s even like a personal interview part that you have to go through which can be really stressful and daunting to students. We’re going to try and streamline that process as well.”
Nagey hopes the event will continue in coming years, possibly occurring quarterly.
Written by: Jayashri Padmanabhan — email@example.com