CSUSB’s Obershaw DEN practices safe ways to remain open and running.
Basic Needs Coordinator, Natalie Cleary, explained that students can receive any information they need through the services. “We have seen a decline in student traffic, but we have tried to supplement that with also providing information on community resources,” Cleary said.
Safety precautions have been put in place for students who decide to come to campus. The DEN is providing pick-up service only to reduce the risk of exposure.
“Prior to COVID-19, you used to be able to come in and select items,” Cleary said. “Now we’re not allowing students to come into the pantry.”
The DEN has moved operations outside. They have developed a grab-and-go system where students are provided enough food items to last five to seven days.
Students receive a variety of items from eggs and milk to pasta and sauce. Enough goods are provided to create a range of different meals.
“We are creating pre-packaged bags that contain both dry, non-perishable items as well as perishable items,” Cleary said.
Along with meals, full sized toiletries and hygiene products are provided as well.
CSUSB junior, Christina Holt, was thankful that these services were there for her and other Yotes in need.
“The Basic Needs services prevented me from becoming homeless and going hungry,” Holt said. “I was surprised with the bag of goodies. They provided essential items like shampoo and deodorant to nutritious food.”
While there have been less students using the DEN’s services, there has been an increase in students utilizing CalFresh Outreach. This nutrition assistance program is able to help low-income individuals and families.
CalFresh recipients receive benefits electronically through personal Golden State Advantage electronic benefits transfer cards. These funds help individuals buy food and incorporate healthy options into their diet.
“We’ve done a lot more pre-screening and information with students about CalFresh which has moved to a virtual platform,” Cleary said.
Basic Needs promotes more than food assistance. Financial security is also an important service among the community.
Two emergency grant programs were released in Spring to aid students who have been impacted during these times. Both applications can be found on the Basic Needs site.
“It does provide immediate relief for students that might be facing financial challenges,” Cleary stated.
The programs include: Basic Need Emergency Grant and COVID-19 Emergency Grants.
Current CSUSB undergraduate or graduate students can apply if they are experiencing financial barriers due to COVID-19 or unexpected hardship. The Basic Needs site provides examples of what qualifies for these grants like economic challenges, job loss, and many more.
CSUSB student, Rachael Goldberg, explained how the Basic Needs services helped her and her children who have been impacted by COVID-19.
“During this time of having little to no financial resources and the inability to work, I was struggling to try and find enough money for rent and food” Goldberg said. She was then provided with a one-time grant that helped her family stay afloat and gave her peace of mind.