Associated Student Inc. purchased a new solar-powered cart to help staff and faculty transport food to the Long Beach State Beach Pantry, earlier this month.
ASI received the Calrecycle, Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant for $60,000 and used the funds to purchase the new cart.
“ASI is always looking for opportunities for [grants and] anything that we can find to provide funds to support students’ needs,” ASI Senior Communications Manager James Ahumada said. “We don’t always receive them, but this was one of those grants that we did receive through a food rescue program.”
ASI’s latest solar-powered vehicle is the first of its kind at CSULB and helps with transporting food to the food bank almost daily. Sustainability has been an effort that ASI works towards and it said the cart helps drive the effort.
“ASI already had golf carts for the Beach Pantry that are gas-powered and waste fossil fuels, however, this cart uses renewable energy to run,” Beach Pantry student assistant Jasson Escobar said. “The cart is also safer because it has doors and the other carts don’t.”
Although the regular carts could be used for other activities, the solar-powered cart will only be used for transporting food donations.
“The uses for the cart have to be tied to the grant, and the grant funds sustainable means,” Ahumada said. “A solar-powered cart was the only one we could buy according to the grant purchase.”
Sustain U staff and employees working in building maintenance will operate the cart to make sure that the Beach Pantry is always stocked.
The Beach Pantry was established in fall 2016 to help combat food insecurity on campus. Since opening, it has fed thousands of students and had over 16,000 visitors during the 2019 spring semester.
“If you’re able to access food, we know that [it] helps you learn in the classroom and be more productive throughout your day,” Ahumada said.
ASI staff said that they are happy that the solar-powered cart will help promote the Beach Pantry and the food bank.
“The solar cart sends a supportive message towards our food insecurity efforts. We want to make sure that students have food available to them,” Ahumada said. “We are trying to make sure that nothing is wasted.”