A Look Inside CAPS and the Food Bank

(Anthony Lai / Staff Photographer)

The Bottom Line Staff Report

UCSB offers many services students can take advantage of. We chose to investigate two of them, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Food Bank, to provide insight into the missions and leadership of these organizations. Enjoy!


Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), located next to the Associated Students Annex and across from Storke Tower is a free counselling service provided to all students at The University of California, Santa Barbara. In an interview with The Bottom Line, mental health specialist Gladys Manrique Koscak, M.S. described the resources CAPS has to offer the UCSB student body.

Koscak explained, “ The mission of Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) is to assist Student Affairs and the University as a whole in helping the student body achieve academic, social and personal success. Through the provision of culturally inclusive mental health services, CAPS strives to help ensure that students, as well as the larger campus community, remain healthy in this pursuit of success. CAPS promotes the emotional well-being of students through individual and group psychotherapy, crisis intervention, and stress management services.”

The Bottom Line: What resources does CAPS have available to students?

Koscak: CAPS educates, supports, advocates and helps foster a culture of acceptance and appreciation of human differences in an inclusive and affirming environment.

CAPS is a service available to all registered students on campus and covered by registration fees. Services at CAPS are confidential and there is no cost for service when students come in.

Individual Counseling is available for students on a brief-therapy model.  If longer-term therapy is needed, CAPS offers a referral to the community. Additionally, CAPS offers same-day appointments for students in crisis.  

Group Counseling offers a wide range of options for students – whether it be a full clinical group, to identity-specific support, or an opportunity to learn more skills to self-manage some concerns. A full listing of all groups, support-type workshops, and drop-in wellness groups can be found on our website: http://caps.sa.ucsb.edu/services/group-counseling

TBL: Does CAPS have any special events planned for this quarter and/or year?

Koscak: The Mental Health Peer Program will be hosting events the week of the 23rd. This will be a continuation of our #Saysomething campaign which encourages students to have the conversation about mental health on our campus. We want students to feel empowered to reach out to their friends if they suspect that they’re struggling, or speak up for themselves if they’re the ones needing some support. College can be a stressful time and having these important conversations with each other can be so impactful.

TBL:  Has CAPS made (or planned to make) any changes for this upcoming year (i.e goals, events, campaigns, new resources, etc.)?

Koscak: We’ve launched our new website: UCSBMHP.com. This site went live before Fall quarter started and it is full of information that can help students manage the college experience – mental health basics, community-specific information, suicide prevention, etc. We hope that it will be a useful resource for students as they’re searching for tips and tricks on how to navigate different situations.

TBL: How can students get involved or reach out to CAPS?

Koscak: Students can get involved with CAPS by applying to be a Mental Health Peer (applications go out in Winter for the following academic year).

Mental Health Peer Program (MHPP) CAPS houses the program in the main building. The MHPP offers relaxation services to students (we have 4 massage chairs and an Alpha-Wave chair). These services are available on a first-come, first-serve basis Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm. The Mental Health Peers also offer drop-in, peer-to-peer counseling, a School Anxiety Program, and workshops.

We also encourage students to get involved with groups like Active Minds, a student organization on campus that works to destigmatize mental health in our community; The Commission on Student Well Being, a commission within Associated Students that focuses on student mental and physical well-being; and Health & Wellness Advocates  Meetings, which include professional development, hands-on experience with health promotion, social connection, and volunteer opportunities. Regardless of level of experience, topic of interest, or major, all students are welcome to participate.

CAPS is located at University of California, Santa Barbara Counseling & Psychological Services, Building 599, Santa Barbara, CA 93106 and can be reached by phone at (805)-893-4411.

Food Bank

Located on the third floor of the UCen, the Associated Students Food Bank will give any UCSB student who goes healthy food and toiletries every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from nine A.M. to six P.M. While other programs offer food assistance to students, most, such as CALfresh, require a social security number and so aren’t available to parts of the UCSB community such as undocumented students.

Established on April 11th, 2011, the AS Food Bank is part of a UC-wide system that aims to increase food security throughout campuses. A 2014 initiative known as the UC Global Food Initiative conducted a study which found that 42 percent of UC students experienced food insecurity, meaning. The AS Food Bank defines food insecurity broadly on their website: “Many students come into the university environment with little knowledge regarding food, particularly nutrition, food preparation, grocery shopping, and budgeting. Without these skills, students may experience food insecurity, like skipping meals or eating poorly for the sake of cost or convenience.”

Rodolfo Herrera, coordinator for the AS Food Bank as well as a trained nutritionist, explained in an interview with TBL, “One new goal of the food bank is to increase the amount of actual protein and vegetables available to students, versus eating large amounts cereals, macaroni and cheese, and instant noodles. That’s why there’s no limit on the amount of vegetables available to the students we serve.”

Herrera continued, “There are different levels of food insecurity, so it’s a complex issue … you perform better in school if you get proper food, if you are food secure.”

The program, which costs five dollars out of the each student’s yearly fees, currently serves students at its maximum capacity, with over 1,300 students getting groceries weekly. To help handle the load, the AS Food Bank employs fifteen students in paid positions. Connor, a third year with a double major in History and Political Science, explained to me happily that he had left a job in IV to work here: “It feels good to actually serve the community rather than profiting off of it.”

The AS Food Bank accepts reusable bags, non-perishable food, menstrual health products, and toiletries, as well as Pay-Pal donations via their website. Volunteers are always welcome, and can become involved easily by going to https://foodbank.as.ucsb.edu and clicking ‘Get Involved!’