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Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Snacking for free


A comprehensive list on where to find free food on campus

Ah, food. Some love to eat it, but hate paying for it. For many students living on a college budget, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet without spending tons of money at the grocery store. Lucky for you, UC Davis and the local Davis community have a lot to offer in the way of free food, and here’s where you can find it.

There are a variety of on-campus food options that, if you’re a UC Davis student, you’re lucky enough to have access to. One of the most simple and helpful options is The Pantry, located in Lower Freeborn, right behind the Memorial Union. The Pantry offers a variety of different food items ranging from snacks and treats to boxes of pasta and canned food. Each food item holds a different point value ranging from one to three, and as a student, you get three points to spend every day. The Pantry operates almost entirely on donations from the local community.

Second-year genetics and genomics major Mari Hoffman just recently found out about The Pantry.

“It’s a very good option for students to get cheap groceries throughout the year,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman was also shocked that so few students knew about it.

The Pantry also offers a variety of different toiletry items, as well as free condoms. It is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Second-year Benjamin Weslow, who has been working at The Pantry since 2017, feels that it needs more publicity and recognition in the campus community.

“I definitely think we need more publicity,” Weslow said. “We get pretty good numbers every day but if students need food it would help if they knew where to find it.”

For those who may need more assistance than just a few food items per day, there’s CalFresh. CalFresh operates through the nationwide, federally funded program called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). CalFresh provides students with a set monthly allotment of EBT credit that can be used at a variety of grocery stores around Davis, including all UC Davis Marketplaces on campus.

Max Vaca, a representative for CalFresh at Davis, explained that students can apply for CalFresh in person at Aggie Compass in the Memorial Union or online at getcalfresh.org. Then, students go through an interview process with a Yolo county representative in order to find out about their specific situation and what level of aid they require to fit their needs. Vaca is hoping that more students who are in need of aid can be reached in the near future.

“UC Davis has given us a great deal of help in promoting CalFresh to students,” Vaca said. “But we still need a lot of help in explaining to students what it actually is and how you can apply for it.”

For those looking for a less official and more risky option, there are a number of different fruit trees and berry bushes around the Davis area. This option is perfect if you’re an expert on the many varieties of wild fruits and berries. But for most people, this option is not always viable since there are many inedible and poisonous fruits and berries that can also be found in the area. Pick at your own risk!

If it’s sustainability you’re looking for, Freedge is the perfect free produce option for you. Freedge is a community refrigerator operation that aims to reduce food waste and build a stronger community through sharing. Restocked every Wednesday from local farms around Davis, it provides students, as well as residents, with a fridge full of free, sustainable and local produce that you can take at your leisure. There are two locations around the city of Davis, which can be found at freedge.org or on the Freedge website. The Facebook page advises that people do not take more than they need, but that all are welcome to use it.  

Another option for free produce is Fruit and Veggie Up located at Aggie Compass. If you’re a Davis student, you get access to the free produce given out on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. each week. While the pantry has many staple items like pasta and canned goods, this option provides students with free access to fruits and vegetables that, more often than not, seem to be lacking in the average college student’s diet.

Second-year economics major Jasper Powell says that he has many friends who have gotten produce from Fruit and Veggie Up. On a few occasions, one friend has received enough produce from Fruit and Veggie Up that he was able to cook dinner for himself and his housemates.

“I’m looking for the best deal I can, especially when it comes to food,” Powell said, “So it helps a lot to have the ability to take advantage of the free options and plan my food around that.”

Davis has quite a lot to offer in the way of free food on and around campus. There are many students at Davis who may be in need of the free food services that are offered, but simply do not have the information to find it. For many students, free food options offer much-needed assistance in their daily lives and can help aid the cost of living in the pricey college town that we call home.


Written by: Nicholas Von Schlegell — features@theaggie.org



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