Many students across 23 California State University (CSU) campuses have been identified as lacking basic necessities ,such as food, housing and hygiene products, according to the Los Angeles Times.
CSUSB started The Delivering Emergency Nourishment (DEN) CSUSB Food Pantry in January 2015, which assists students who face food scarcity.
Since then, the DEN has reportedly helped 50 students who have been living in their cars and on friends’ couches and approximately 425 returning students overall, according to Diane Podolske, director of the DEN.
The DEN is available to currently enrolled CSUSB students, which includes undergraduate, credential, graduate, and doctoral students.
The DEN also provides referrals to other food programs and services not offered on campus.
Podolske said that most students on campus are not aware of the program, or are too shy to ask for help.
“There have been times when students come in for assistance from us and say they haven’t eaten in days and we have food they can heat up right away and eat it while we go through the intake process,” said Podolske.
Podolske also described the different meal packs offered by The DEN.
“We have day packs and weekly bags. Over 100 students have received those and come back week after week. The day pack is food just for the day, if we don’t have enough to eat. It is also available at many different offices on campus including campus recreation,” said Podolske.
“I think for some students, school is the one good thing they got going so we want to make sure it isn’t food that is the barrier to them continuing,” added Podolske.
CSUSB students, Anjanette Escalante and Ian Barrial, believe The DEN program is a great resource for students to utilize.
“I think it is great that the school is providing these resources. I had no idea this program was going on and I know what it is like to be tight on money and not have money for gas, let alone food,” said Escalante.
Barrial shared his opinion on the impact of The DEN.
“Students should use all the resources provided to them,” said Barrial.
To be eligible to utilize the DEN services, students must provide proof of enrollment at their first visit and each following quarter.
Rashida Crutchfield, a Cal State Long Beach social work professor, also will conduct a study to help students who lack the necessities, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The one-year project will study the food problem and housing insecurity and make recommendations for how the university can support students in need, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Students who experience homelessness are not required to identify themselves, and because of the stigma associated with homelessness, they purposefully hide their circumstances from those who might be able to help them,” stated Crutchfield.
A number of CSU campuses already provide services such as donor-funded food pantries, clothing and hygiene products for students in need. CSU Long Beach recently started an emergency intervention program that includes donated meals, short-term housing and emergency funds, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The study will focus on students’ experiences with food insecurity in hopes that all Cal States can address this issue.