Officers Rejoice Opening of Cal State Lengthy Seashore Pantry • Information from the Lengthy Seashore Submit

Photos by Stephanie Perez.

Members of the Cal State Moncton (CSULB) community gathered on campus Wednesday morning to celebrate the grand opening of Associated Student Inc. (ASI) Beach Pantry.

Located in Room 302 of the University Student Union (USU), the ASI Beach Pantry was created in response to statements about food insecurity from students, including former ASI Vice President Miriam Hernandez, who took on the battle while undergraduate.

“There were times when I had to choose between a book and a meal,” said Hernandez. “I thought I was alone […] until I met other students who were facing the same struggle. “

An email sent by Hernandez to the ASI senators served as a unique catalyst for the pantry development. In her email, Hernandez asked her if they would work with her on her idea. With the Senators on board, she teamed up with the CSULB Dean of Studies Jeff Klaus to fully realize her vision. At the end of her tenure, she handed the torch over to ASI Vice President Logan Vournas, who continued Hernandez’s work.

“I remember the first time I saw the pantry and only the empty shelves I almost cried,” said Vournas. “The hardest thing for us was to find the place [in the student union]. ”

Rashida Crutchfield, assistant professor at the CSULB School of Social Work, conducted a study in which 23 percent of Cal State University (CSU) students reported food insecurity and one in ten CSU students reported housing insecurity.

“I’ve had my own experiences and struggles, but [it was] because it’s such an invisible problem; I had no Idea [about] the extent of it, ”said Vournas. “Little did I know that in a room with 30 students, a quarter of us were food insecure.”

The ASI recycling specialist and CSULB alumnus Eric Bryan was also confronted with housing and food insecurity in his third year of study.

“I didn’t know where to sleep, where to eat, or where to be, and I was scared,” said Bryan.

He said people had got him out of a difficult situation and now it was time for him to give something back by helping with the Beach Pantry. The ASI Recycling Center at 5800 East Atherton Street is one of the pantry drop-off points. The other two locations are in the ASI Beach Pantry Office at USU-302 and in the USU Information and Ticket Center.

Donations can include non-perishable food, canned fruits and vegetables, dry goods, and various hygienic necessities.

Vournas said that many do not want to use these services because it makes them feel weak and unwilling to need help, but “the mission, not just the pantry, but ASI” is to ensure that the students stay strong.

CSULB also offers US $ 500 grants to students in a real crisis for housing and other emergencies. Other programs on campus include a short term residential program and a meal support program with university meals.

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“We owe so much to first and foremost students willing to tell their story, but also to our faculty member Rashida Crutchfield for showing us that it’s not just a student here, a student there,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley . “It’s a campus problem.”

The pantry is not bureaucratic which means there is no test to take food. According to Close Conoley, students can go to USU-302, fill out a form, and have food. There is currently no limit and students are also allowed to bring groceries for their families if needed.

“When one of our students has problems, all of our students have problems, and we want to make sure that as a campus we support all of our students – regardless of their needs,” said Vourans.

More information can be found here.

{gallery} stephanie / food pantry {/ gallery}

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