The Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is one of the numerous events that the Associated Student Inc. hosts to educate and provide food resources to the public.
The Awareness Week event utilizes campus programs including Beach Balance, Beach Kitchen, Beach Pantry which is apart of Basic Needs.
Together they can lessen the impact that food insecurity has on students at Long Beach State University. Nearly 40 percent of students enrolled in the Cal State college system face food insecurities.
Food scarcity occurs for many students while they still have to attend to other financial obligations. In order to prevent students from going hungry to pay bills, the school offers multiple resources for relief.
Beach Balance is a service that is provided to students on campus that improves their overall physical and mental health, but also their dietary health.
This campus program has adopted nutrition counseling as part of their efforts to combat food-related issues and insecurities for students.
However, to address the access to food resources problem that occurs for students, Beach Balance has implemented the Beach Pantry and the Beach Kitchen for students.
“Something we do at Beach Balance, and that is unique, is that we try to have the food catered to many different people not just one culture or one type of food group, “ said Cecilia Guerrero, SRWC Fitness and Wellness Coordinator.
Guerrero adds how the dishes offered at Beach Balance can help students by partnering with other free of charge amenities.
“We based it off of ingredients from the Beach Pantry, so I think that was really helpful seeing what you could take from the dish and make it yourself,” she said.
The Beach Pantry provides food to students with them able to visit the store located on campus to check out with five items per visit, with three visits allowed per week.
This programs collaborates with other various initiatives on campus including nutrition and dietetics and graduate coordinators, CalFresh Healthy Living interns, SRWC, Beach Balance staff and many other to provide to the campus and beyond.
“Being students, not everyone has access to certain food or aren’t able to work to pay for something, so I think it’s just a great resource for students to come use just to get some healthy food that lasts,”said Allie Scimia, Beach Pantry employee and student.
Scimia has utilized the Beach Pantry on campus for herself and continues to spread the word about the benefit of this free resource for students.
“The ASI Beach Pantry has returned to its pre-pandemic numbers,” said Christina Limon, the Beach Pantry coordinator. “This semester, we have had over 11,750 visits serving over 2,500 students,” she said.
For the holidays, the Beach Pantry will remain open until December 23, 2022 and reopen January 2, 2023.
“ASI is committed to helping our students that are experiencing both housing and food insecurity,” Limon said. “We often partner with Basic Needs to provide information and resources for students struggling with both housing and food.”
Beach Kitchen incorporates that food from from the Beach Pantry and helps students and visiting members turn it into a meal.
The Beach Kitchen program offered to students lets them cook and learn meal recipes, with dietary health help incorporated, while using ingredients offered at the Beach Pantry.
It provides educational lessons on cooking in addition to food for students after the event is over. Anyone is welcome to the hosted events throughout the semester, and they typically last an hour long.
“This semester, we have had over 500 students attend classes at the ASI Beach Kitchen,” Limon said. “The ASI Beach Kitchen offers weekly classes to highlight food and produce that the Beach Pantry receives through donations.”
Students and any other attending members can take home the meals that they have cooked for the night as well as additional left overs from that day’s specific event.
“With a lot of the activities that are being hosted at the Beach Kitchen, a lot of the supplies are provided so you don’t have to worry about bringing food or anything like that,” said Guerrero. “A lot of the events follow up with direct links to the recipes or resources that they will get later on so they can recreate the recipe at home.”
These events are a step towards solving the hunger and homelessness problem on campus by providing more than just food for the night.
“For some people that could be their dinner for the night, “said Edrielle Escano, a second-year employee for Beach Balance and Beach Kitchen. “It also like shows all the resources that we have on campus like the Beach Pantry and like Nutrition Counselling and it just kind of like just like coming here you get exposed to a lot of different things.”
Escano has hosted two Beach Kitchen meal lessons so far this semester and believes that this resource is a productive way to make sure that students do not go hungry.
“It’s fun to do stuff like this where people can have recipes that gives them something to teach them that’s not like TikTok. I think it is fun and it is informative for them,” said Jordan Davis, Beach Kitchen employee.
Additional individuals remark on the positive impact the events have on the student body population. A sense of community is provided to the students, so they don’t have to face food insecurities alone.
To continue to assist students during the holiday closure, students can reach out to Basic Needs on campus to receive food resources.
“My staff and I love our work, it provides us with a sense of purpose,” said Limon. “Both my staff and I have established relationships with students and volunteers, creating lasting bonds of trust.”