Shelves were filled to the edge with canned goods and snacks after the holiday break, but the Associated Students Inc. Beach Pantry isn’t always so bountiful.
Although the ASI Beach Pantry has received an influx of donations during the holiday season, it has had trouble in the past keeping the pantry full.
“There’s been days where I’ve been here, I’ve been working, and there’s only Ramen and a few cans of tomato sauce. There’s barely any snacks,” ASI Beach Pantry employee Tiana Barajas said. “Students will come in and sometimes they won’t even get anything because it does not suffice.”
The ASI Beach Pantry supplies zero-cost food to Long Beach State students as long as they bring a student I.D. The pantry, which opened in 2016, has steadily increased its number of unique and total visitors, according to ASI Communications Director James Ahumada.
The space relies on sustained connections with local organizations to supply food donations, Ahumada said. He added that these donations are not always consistent.
During a visit to the pantry after the holiday break, senior English education major Azucena Montenegro said she had never seen the pantry so full.
“It does ebb and flow, and I think that’s where ASI comes in with our staff,” Ahumada said. “We usually have something there, but sometimes it’s definitely less than the full stock.”
Over 41 percent of students face food insecurity in the California State University system, according to research from assistant professor of social work Rashida Crutchfield.
“Those findings were stunning,” Crutchfield said. “For some of our students who are getting depressed nutritional value in their meals, or missing meals because they cannot afford meals, the Beach Pantry really supports getting them through the day.”
Throughout the semester, the ASI Beach Pantry has received multiple large donations from organizations such as Giving Children Hope and Generosity Feeds. Now that the holiday season has begun, pantry donations have increased.
“When it’s winter time, there’s a lot of donations for the students,” Barajas said. “But whenever it’s just the beginning of the year, end of the year, there’s not as much that’s being put in.”
In the future, ASI will research its current methods and figure out how to more strategically serve students.
“Continued partnerships is going to be key, there’s no way to run the pantry without community partners, campus partners,” Ahumada said.
As for campus involvement, the LBSU campus can play an important role in the long term sustainability of the ASI Beach Pantry, Crutchfield said.
“We as a campus, as administrators, as faculty, as staff, as students, we all have to invest in the pantry,” Crutchfield said. “We have a lot of students who need support, so making sure the pantry is stocked has to be all of our responsibilities.”
Paula Kiley contributed to this article.
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