Located right on our campus, the Pantry serves its students and helps mediate the effects of food insecurity. The Pantry is one of our student government (ASUCD) units and has been acting as an on-campus food source since 2011.
During an interview with Unit Director Maria Angelica Wong Chang and outgoing-Unit Director Erika Maria Hapa, I was able to see what the Pantry really does to help mitigate the food insecurity that many UC Davis students face.
Chang stated that there are two parts to the Pantry’s mission: to raise awareness and thus reduce the stigma behind food insecurity, as well as provide the resources that students need in order to meet their basic needs. The Pantry offers non-perishable items and toiletries for UC Davis students.
For food, the Pantry offers a variety from canned fruit and vegetables, to soups and pastas. It also offers fresh produce from their Fresh Focus and Fruit and Veggie Up! Programs. Through these programs, the Pantry hopes to provide fresher options rather than solely non-perishable items.
Students can access these foods through the Pantry’s point system. The Pantry labels foods by how many points a food item is worth. For example, a packet of Top Ramen is worth one point while canned fruits may be labeled as two points. Each student is given three points to use each time they come to the Pantry’s doors located at 21 Lower Freeborn Hall. In order to ensure the security of those using the Pantry’s services, no names or addresses are recorded if students are using this 3-point system.
The Pantry also prepares for students who need more food than the 3-point system provides. As stated by Hapa, the Pantry also features the Emergency Food Assistance Program, in which students can grab a bag filled with food if they provide their name and address. Students are limited to one bag per month.
The Pantry also has a scholarship program that offers students a $250 gift card to grocery stores within Davis. Students can apply for this scholarship annually.
Since they serve 50 to 60 students daily, the Pantry needs as many volunteers as they can get. Each quarter the Pantry hires 10 regular volunteers that help the Pantry throughout the quarter with scheduled hours. However, the Pantry is happy to accept students from different organizations, clubs, or fraternities and sororities who wish to help the Pantry during their free time.
In the future, the Pantry hopes to fundraise more and send the word out about the Pantry program to those who truly need its services. Each year, the Pantry holds a Benefit Concert and a Canned Food Castle Competition in order to spread the Pantry’s message to others. All proceeds go to helping the Pantry, whether its to buy more advanced shelving or expand on the food resources that they provide.
If you or anyone you may know need the Pantry’s services, their doors are open from 10 am to 1 pm on Mondays to Fridays and 4 pm to 6 pm on Mondays and Thursdays.