Campus, News

ASI Senate discusses student food insecurity

Associated Students Inc. addressed food insecurity concerns at Wednesday’s Senate meeting by discussing ways to introduce more nutritious and affordable choices for students. During the public comments portion of the meeting, Josh Haber, a fourth-year community health education major, took to the podium to direct attention to the food insecurity problem among students. 

“Forty-one percent of students in the CSU system are food insecure,” Haber said. “This is a big problem. Our campus has great resources to help these students, but no single resource fully helps these students deal with this issue. All of them have some sort of trade off.”

In his speech, Haber introduced a food insecurity app, “Peri,” that he and his classmates created to help combat the growing problem. He explained to the Senate that the app helps notify users of discounted goods, with a focus on affordable protein options. 

“Peri” won third place at the 2019 Pitchfest, a competition for new business ideas from the CSULB Institution for Innovation and Engineering.

“We take local markdowns for meat and dairy and post them directly to the app so students know exactly where the best deals on protein are that day,” Haber said. “For example, today, there were about 100 pounds of chicken breast being marked down at Food 4 Less and a student would usually have to go [there] to see that deal, but with Peri, they could check it at home on the app and know where to go for the markdowns.”

He said the app shows markdowns up to 70% off retail prices, and gives “really significant savings for people on fixed income or limited budget.” He asked the Senate to consider collaborating with his team to help bring more affordable options to students with social media promotion and at ASI tabling events.

ASI Vice President Leen Almahdi acknowledged Haber’s efforts and recommended him to meet with the Dean of Students, Piya Bose to combine efforts in aiding the student body. 

“This is amazing,” Bose said. “This is brilliant and we’d love to hear more about a collaboration.” 

In addition, Sens. Sumaiyah Hossain and Jireh Deng addressed concerns about healthier food options at Beach Pantry, where students have voiced complaints over what is being offered. Hossain said that it needs more nutritious additions instead of “only ramen packs.” 

The ASI Beach Pantry is the university’s official food operation that strives to provide non-perishable food items to students in need.

The next ASI Senate meeting will be held Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m. in USU 234.

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