This year, the Bronco Student Center (BSC, Bldg. 35) will become the home for Cal Poly Pomona’s (CPP) own food pantry. The food pantry began with an initiative started by 2016-17 Associated Students Inc. (ASI) president, Uriah Sanders, as a result of a California State University (CSU) study, which reported that 41.6% of CSU students experience food insecurity and stressed the importance of providing necessities for students.
“Our students come to Cal Poly Pomona to get the very best education, and we set a high bar for their academic success. But as we are seeing more often across universities, some of our students struggle with food insecurity, which can be a barrier to their being able to reach their full potential,” said President Coley. “I commend our ASI leaders for taking an important step to help students who face this struggle by establishing a food pantry in the upcoming academic year. Our university community is committed to continue working together to develop short-term and long-term solutions to ensure the success of our students facing basic needs insecurity.”
In Spring 2017, Sanders presented and passed a bill through ASI Senate that allowed ASI to create a pantry in the BSC that would consist of both perishable and non-perishable items. The food pantry will be available to all students who feel they are in need. Students experiencing greater need beyond what the pantry can provide will be connected to services such as CalFresh and university resources that assist with food insecurity.
BSC director, Barnaby Peake, went into detail on the plan and process of ASI‘s new food pantry. “We want our food pantry to be transformational, not transactional,” explains Peake, adding that he hopes that every student visiting the food pantry has an interaction with a volunteer or staff member. “Engagement, belonging; those are critical components to basic needs as well. We’re going to try to make it so that in giving you something to eat…we help you to be successful as a student and get the full college experience.”
The goal of the food pantry is to help students in need ultimately move beyond the pantry by either addressing the needs on their own or other long-term solutions such as connecting with CalFresh. The food pantry aims to provide a non-judgemental and flexible shopping environment by tailoring hours around meal times and student availability. Through direct feedback, the food pantry will develop a list of products that students request in an attempt to best serve those who utilize the pantry.
Complete with a food shelf, checkout desk, stainless steel two-door refrigerator, a full-time staff member, student staff and student-volunteers, the food pantry is proposed to be open six days a week, Monday to Saturday. Due to the remodeling of the facility, as well as pending fire marshal and health inspector approvals, the opening date of the food pantry remains tentative.