The Global Food Initiative at UCSB
Have you ever missed a meal and had to go throughout the day hungry? For many UCSB students, hunger is a very real concern. Whether it is a first-year student who cannot afford an adequate meal plan and has to hope that a late lunch lasts her throughout the night, or a junior who lives in Isla Vista and has a bowl of cereal for dinner. Or maybe it is a graduate student in Family Student Housing living off of a TA’s salary and is trying to feed a family of four. Although it is not readily apparent, many of our UCSB students are not well-nourished, and this has an impact on their studies, grades, and sleep patterns. On a greater scale, this has serious effects on whether many of them succeed as a student and are able to graduate. In July 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano, together with UC’s ten chancellors, launched the UC Global Food Initiative. The initiative aligns the university’s research, outreach and operations in a sustained effort to develop, demonstrate and export solutions — throughout California, the United States and the world — for food security, health and sustainability.
One program launched from the UCSB Global Food Initiative is the UCSB Food Security Plan. Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. We believe that UCSB has an obligation to the students we accept by providing them with the tools they need to be successful while here on this campus, including food security. And this year UCSB has admitted our highest amount of students receiving financial assistance. There are over 9,500 students on our campus who qualify for government assistance.
Our goal is to reduce hunger and poor nutrition through information and resources, as well as providing access to appropriate, affordable food that promotes personal and environmental health. Our plan to accomplish this goal is to integrate food justice and food security into the classrooms, offices, living spaces, and organizations. With the launch of the Food Security Plan, we are taking great step towards fostering diversity and upward mobility and helping these students be successful at the university.
Some of the initiatives that we are putting in place to accomplish this goal include:
- Advocacy, such as the Edible Campus Project
- Campus food system coordination, such as the Food, Nutrition, Basic Skills Pilot Project
- Mobile Demonstration Kitchen to educate and teach students
We need your help to accomplish this goal of reducing hunger and poor nutrition on our campus. I ask that you let your friends, students and university colleagues know that hunger is a persistent problem on our campus and ask them if they are willing to become a part of the solution. I hope to follow up with individual departments and provide more information on where this initiative is going and how Housing & Residential Services can become a part of it. Thank you for your consideration in becoming a part of the solution.
By Danielle Kemp