The Associated Students Food Bank opened on April 19, 2011 to supply students in need with non-perishable food and basic toiletries. Since then, it has served as a helpful resource to relieve well over 200 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos from skipping meals. As expected, the AS Food Bank didn’t grow out of nowhere like a magic bean stalk.
It all began when Student Initiated Recruitment and Retention Committee Co-President Guadalupe Cruz raised the concern for students dramatically impacted by the UC fee increases. Through a school-wide survey, 600 to 700 out of 2,100 participants revealed that they were in need and would use a food bank if it were created. A total of 46.6 percent of participants said that they skip meals on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis in order to save money.
Cruz saw this as a window of opportunity to make a difference. She collaborated with AS president at the time, Paul Monge-Rodriguez, and the two of them reached for guidance from the Student Financial Resources Committee and Business Services at UCSB to make things official. More students with a shared passion got involved along the way, such as the Food Bank’s Internal Affairs Coordinator Jennelle Fong, and have helped spark support from the UCSB and Santa Barbara community as a whole.
Many organizations have contributed to keeping the Food Bank full and running. Members of Greek Life recently gathered 5,000 donations through a collaborative fundraiser and faculty and staff also hold departmental food drives. In addition to the green bins located around campus, AS Food Bank staff and volunteers lead door-to-door walking campaigns in IV neighborhoods. Be sure to put on a friendly face and pitch in a couple canned food items because whatever you can donate does make a significant difference.
The AS Food Bank is currently working to create ties with the Santa Barbara Food Bank located down town. By having an account with them, UCSB’s food bank will have access to bulks of food that can be purchased at a much cheaper rate and expand resources.
This is only the beginning of the food bank’s involvement with the UCSB community.
“As an AS entity, there is so much to be done, so much to accomplish. My goal is to establish tradition, permanence, and sustainability on this campus, so we’re not just a one year thing. We want to keep going for years and years and years,” said Fong.
In order to keep up their excellent efforts, the AS Food Bank needs as many contributions as possible. There are several opportunities for people to get involved with this important cause that affects so many students in a positive way.
For those interested in utilizing their services, visit the Food Bank on the third floor of the UCen on Mondays or Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5p.m. or visit their website at www.as.ucsb.edu/foodbank.