Davis Co-Op starts series of free cooking classes for those in need

Davis Co-Op starts series of free cooking classes for those in need

Photo Credits: Zoë Reinhardt / Aggie. The Davis Co-Op is launching a program on cooking at the community wide level, which aims to engage low income students and others who need food bank resources.

Davis relief organizations address food insecurity

Five organizations in Davis have partnered together to provide relief for those who are in need, specifically students, with a series of free instructional cooking classes. These organizations are the Yolo Food Bank, Homeless Outreach through Prevention and Education (HOPE) at UC Davis, CommuniCare, The Davis Food Co-Op and Aggie Compass. 

The Yolo Food Bank identifies students as a demographic within Yolo County that is “disproportionately affected” by food insecurity. The Yolo Food Bank website discusses how food insecurity affects members of Yolo County.

 “Despite being known for an abundant agricultural economy, food insecurity is an everyday concern for many Yolo County residents, with as many as 17% of the overall county population affected,” the website reads. 

Aggie Compass is a campus-based organization that helps UC Davis students access food-assistance, counseling and housing resources. 

“Our mission is to help mitigate the effects of food and housing insecurity on students, while working to change policy, systems and environment that will affect long term change,” Aggie Compass’ website reads.

Leslie Kemp, the director of Aggie Compass, spoke about the necessity of programs like those offered through Aggie Compass. 

“Students are a niche audience,” Kemp said. “And they’re our only audience here on campus.”

Kemp also addressed the inherent difficulties in connecting students to food relief resources.

“There’s so many scheduling conflicts for students,” Kemp said. “There’s class, there’s study time [and] there’s work schedules on top of that.”

In 2016, the University of California’s Global Food Initiative did a Student Food Access and Security Study which described how food insecurity affects students. UC Davis students responded to a UC Undergraduate Experience Survey in 2016, indicating the need for food, according to UC Davis’s press release

“Of some 8,600 UC Davis students who responded […] 24 percent said they sometimes ran out of food before they had money to get more, and 9 percent said it happened often,” the press release read. 

Kemp said that the problem of food insecurity was not the problem of any one individual or organization, but rather the problem of all involved. 

“If you’re talking about sustainability or too much food waste — it’s happening everywhere — not just on campus,” Kemp said. “The more we can collaborate with people on campus and with people in the community, the better and more varied resources we can provide to students.”

The cooking program offered by the Co-Op specifically targets those who are experiencing financial hardship, who are beneficiaries of specific relief programs such as CalFresh or who are struggling to get adequate nutrition with the resources available to them. 

Each class will focus on instructing attendees on how to make a simple meal with the ingredients that would be provided through the ASUCD Pantry. The Davis Food Co-Op holds classes in a teaching kitchen located at 537 G St. These classes will run until December 2020 and will take place every third Thursday of the month, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Madison Souja, the demonstration and outreach coordinator of the Davis Food Co-op, commented on why the program started. 

“We saw the need for people and students to learn to cook with what they are given,” Souja said via email. “Cooking can be stressful if you are a student new to living on your own.”

Souja explained how attendees can benefit from these classes. 

“Attendees benefit by learning some basic cooking skills,” Souja said. “The hope for this program is that by learning to cook with what they have, those who attend will be able to optimize the food that they have access to. They are also given food from Co-op or Yolo Food Bank, and are given servings of what we prepared to take home.” 

Written by: Rachel Heleva — city@theaggie.org

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that UC Davis did a Student Food Access and Security Study; however, the study was conducted by the University of California’s Global Food Initiative. UC Davis students responded to the survey, but UC Davis did not conduct the survey nor the study. The article has since been updated. The Aggie regrets the error.