Members of the Associated Students Inc. shared their personal struggles with food insecurity while celebrating the grand opening of the ASI Beach Pantry Wednesday morning.
A crowd of about 50 students and faculty gathered at the southwest terrace of the University Student Union to listen to ASI Vice President Logan Vournas and former Vice President Miriam Hernandez speak on their vision for the Beach Pantry and the steps they took in order to create it. ASI recycling specialist Eric Bryan related his story on how he was living in his car and the university’s services gave him a job and helped him off the street.
“As a student here, you will not go hungry,” he said.
Celebrations concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the pantry, where canned and packaged non-perishable food is stored.
The pantry is located on the third floor of the University Student Union in room 302.
The ASI Beach Pantry was created as a response to the growing level of food insecurity experienced by college students. A California State University study published in January by CSULB School of Social Work assistant professor Rashida Crutchfield found that approximately one in ten students in the CSU system are homeless and one in five do not have steady food access.
Shyanne Riberal-Norton, a worker at the ASI Beach Pantry, explained that students first need to visit the office next to the pantry and check in with their student ID. They then answer a questionnaire detailing if they require short or long-term need and if they have children they support.
Students can also donate food at the office. The pantry received aid from Grocery Outlet and Food Finders and donators can also arrange a pickup for large donations.
“Students can help by donating food, volunteering and applying to work in the pantry,” Dean of Students Jeff Klaus said. “They can also organize food drives within their organizations. This is a part of the overall Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness program that we, as a university, offer.”
The program has expanded to include emergency housing on campus and hotel vouchers as well as offering employment to students. Students can fill out an application online through CSULB’s Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness program to receive aid.
“We have two students from the Masters of Social Work Program that meet with students in crises and then follow up with those students throughout [their experience]. We know that there are a lot of issues that students are facing and so we stay in touch with them over the long haul.”
Klaus also gave an update on the Beach Bites app, a smartphone app that is set to launch in two weeks.
Students can register themselves as administrators on the app and post when they have leftover food available from events. Students that use the app can then see where the event is and get the leftover food.
“In terms of sustainability and supporting students that are food insecure, as a campus, we are doing a great job,” Klaus said.
The Beach Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.