Today's blog post comes from Environmental Intern Jasmine Jefferies. Enjoy!
Budgeting can be hard, especially when learning to live off campus for the first time. Many students don’t work, or only have a part-time job, which makes it even more challenging to find the money for buying basic necessities like food and toiletries. “Many students come into the university environment with little knowledge regarding food, nutrition, food preparation, grocery shopping, and budgeting. Without these skills, students may experience food insecurity, which includes skipping meals or eating poorly for the sake of cost or convenience” (UCSB Food for All). There are several resources that students can take advantage of, such as the AS Food Bank, Miramar Food Pantry, CalFresh and more. Listed below are some of the options students can use to ensure they are food secure.
1. The A.S. Food Bank provides registered UCSB students with fresh produce and toiletries. The food bank is located on the third floor of the Ucen and their hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9am-6pm. This program ensures that students are able to afford the food they need.
2. The Miramar Food Pantry is a new food access option located in the Sierra Madre Villages. This food pantry has items such as fresh produce, pasta, cereals, and canned goods. Hours of operations are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 4-7pm and students are welcome to visit the pantry every day they are open.
3. CalFresh is a program where students can apply for benefits that provide up to $194 per month for groceries. The amount of benefits is based on income, household size, and bills. Students that qualify can use their EBT card at many local grocery stores such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Albertsons, Smart and Final, and on campus at The Arbor. CalFresh enables students to fuel their bodies with healthy, nutritious food.
4. Associated Students has a program called “Swipe Out Hunger,” where UCSB students can donate any unused meal swipes to those who need it. “UCSB has a total of a 1,000 swipes cap. 75% of donations are converted into meal vouchers for students in need, that are distributed via the AS Food Bank. The other 25% of swipes is converted into monetary value and are used to purchase food and various items for Casa Esperanza Homeless Center in downtown Santa Barbara” (AS Food Bank). All students have to do is apply, and the benefits are based on income and bills.
There are also many tips you can follow while shopping at grocery stores to get the best prices on items. The first tip is to shop in bulk for staple items. Most of the time, shopping in bulk will save you a lot of money. Items like beans, rice, and oats run for about $1 per pound of dry food! The second tip is to make sure you buy fruit and vegetables that are in season. This is important because out-of-season produce can be more expensive. The third tip is to follow your local stores’ weekly deals and coupons. Most stores have a weekly deal, so make sure to take advantage of them each week. The fourth tip is to only buy what you know you can eat. Many college students buy way too much food, and end up throwing a lot of it away. To avoid this problem, buy only what you need and freeze extra items to save for later. And lastly, avoid frozen dinners/prepared meals. Making your own meals will save you a lot of money. Many frozen meals run between $5-10 per meal. For one frozen meal, you can make a whole week’s worth of lunches or dinners.
All of these tips and resources can help save money. It is easy to go into a market and leave with an empty wallet, but these tricks will help you make smart decisions at the grocery store.