CSU, Chico Associated Students Sustainability Program Awards $20,100 to Support Student Food Pantry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 02-15-2017

Sean Murphy
Public Affairs
TEL: 530-898-6492

Joe Picard
Regional & Continuing Education      
TEL: 530-898-5679

The California State University, Chico’s Associated Students (AS) Sustainability Program recently awarded $20,100 to the University’s Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry through the annual AS Sustainability Fund, a student project and grant program. 

The funds will support the Veggie Buck program through the purchase of organic produce from the University Farm’s Organic Vegetable Project. In addition to expanding existing efforts to get food from the farm to students, the award will provide low-income students with prepaid cards that are good for purchases of nutritious meals at AS Dining Services.

Tina Candelo-Mize, a graduate student in agricultural education, and Maria Valencia, a health education undergraduate student, developed the project proposal on behalf of the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry. The students created the project in collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, the Organic Vegetable Project, AS Dining Services and University Housing.

“Food insecurity on campus is real. It is a symptom of student financial stress, as we know many of our peers are struggling to cover their expenses and basic needs,” said Associated Student President Michael Pratt. “We are happy to continue to support this program because we know the importance of good nutrition as a foundation for learning and student success,” he said.

In February 2015, the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry began distributing paper vouchers, called Veggie Bucks, which student participants can use to buy organic produce from the University Farm’s Organic Vegetable Project. 

Organic produce from the University Farm is harvested and sold seasonally at a weekly produce stand located on the CSU, Chico campus.

The Veggie Bucks effort was able to expand last year through donations from University staff and faculty, as well as from members of the community and an initial AS Sustainability Fund grant. Since 2015, more than 4,250 pounds of fresh, organic produce have been distributed to an estimated 600 low-income CSU, Chico students. 

The funds will also help AS create a CalFresh Electronic Balance Transfer (EBT) system on campus. That system will enable students to use CalFresh benefits directly at some campus locations for the first time.

The federal CalFresh Program—also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP—issues monthly electronic benefits to help low-income individuals and families purchase food.

Launched in 2006 through student fees, the AS Sustainability Program funds an annual project grant program for students to support the sustainability goals at the University.

The University Farm’s Organic Vegetable Project is a grant-funded, student-run project established in 2008 that is administered by the College of Agriculture. The project manages three certified organic farm acres, which are in production year-round. The project also distributes the organic harvest through Community Supported Agriculture food deliveries and the campus produce market.

Established in 2013, the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry provides Chico State students access to nutritious food and has served more than 1,000 students since 2013.

The pantry program also provides CalFresh application assistance, nutrition education and basic needs referrals.

The Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry is the main program of the Chico State Basic Needs Project, a collaborative effort of campus and community-based programs that aim to improve student success and graduation rates. The project provides supplemental food, meals, government-funded food benefits, and research-based education and referral services for students who are experiencing food insecurity, homelessness or poverty.

For more information or to donate, please visit the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry, which is located in Kendall Room 110. The program can also be found online at www.csuchico.edu/sa/units/hungry-wildcat-food-pantry/index.shtml or can be reached at 530-898-6131.

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