Photo credit: AS Food Bank
By Iulia Roman
AS Food Bank Overview
The Associated Students Food Bank works to solve issues of food insecurity among students at the University of California - Santa Barbara. Faced with stressful financial situations, students often have to skip meals at the expense of books, rent, and other financial burdens. The AS Food Bank has been working to combat these issues and provide students with free access to non-perishable food items and toiletries. Read more about their work and cool ways to get involved.
The UCSB Associated Students Food Bank
The UCSB AS Food Bank is a student-run service that provides Undergraduate and Graduate students with non-perishable food items and toiletries. The goal of the program is to provide free food and toiletries to students that struggle to economically meet their basic needs. The Food Bank serves nonperishable food items such as canned vegetables, soup, pasta, cereal, and canned meats as well as toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, and mouthwash. All students can shop anonymously with valid a UCSB identification and gain an unlimited amount of items.
The AS Food Bank launched in April 19th, 2011 in response to students’ ongoing struggles to meet their basic needs. In a university environment of constant fee increases, UCSB decided a program to meet increasing student needs was necessary. Today, the AS Food Bank serviced over 5,400 students and has had over 54,000 visits.
AS Food Bank Programs
The AS Food Bank is available for students to confidentially pick up non-perishable food items and toiletries Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am-6pm. Undergraduate and graduate students need to come in with a valid student ID and sign a self declaration of income, spousal income, financial aid, scholarships, TA-ships, and fellowships. The staff will assist students regarding the income requirements. Students are allowed to use the Food Bank once a day during distribution hours.
Insider tip: Any student making under $14,484 per year is eligible to use the Food Bank. This includes only finances made by the student and excludes family income, financial aid, and scholarships, therefore almost all students can access these services.
The programs provided by the Food Bank expand beyond giving food to students, but provide workshops to increase literacy on food and budgets to students.
A recent program, the Food Nutrition and Basic Skills Program
provides students with knowledge regarding food, nutrition, food
preparation, grocery shopping, and budgeting. The workshops
offered help students not become food insecure, skip meals, and eat
poorly for the sake of cost or convenience. The kitchen kit to the left
is given to students that complete one program from each program
The Food Bank also provides students with Calfresh Assistance.
CalFresh is a state program that adds to your food budget and can allow people to include fresh and nutritious food to their diets that otherwise could not afford it. The staff will help students with the application process.
Insider knowledge: If you qualify for work study, you automatically qualify for CalFresh. The program can give you up to $200 a month
The Meal tickets Swipe for Us program allows for a unique sharing system, in which students with a meal plan can donate meals to other students in need of hot meals that don’t have a meal plan. This is a partnership with the UCSB Housing & Residential Services, and Swipe Out Hunger at UCSB. Distribution of meal tickets form can be found online at .
Food Week is a celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food in solidarity with World Food Day and National Food Day. The AS Food Bank celebrates this in mid-October, where students are encouraged to participate in community building and healthy food events such as Build Your Own burrito bar, Salad Eating and Planting, and more. Students are also encouraged to take the Eat Real Pledge, and commit to eating healthy, minimally processed, and sustainable foods.
Promoting Food Security is part of the UC Global Food Initiative launched by President Janet Napolitano to use UC resources to sustainably and nutritiously feed our growing population. The AS Food Bank has been a part of this through the Swipes Out Hunger and Food Access & Security subcommittees. The Food Bank is also currently working on the CalFresh Outreach Expansion Campaign and the Food, Nutrition, and Basic Skills Program as part of this initiative.
Ways to get involved
There are many ways to get involved in the AS Food Bank, the first being by taking advantage of its programs. Most students at UCSB qualify for assistance from the food bank and these services are included in all student fees.
In addition, the AS Food Bank offers numerous volunteer opportunities. Tasks include helping in pantry operations, donation walks and fundraising, and food demonstrations. Students can also gain professional experience by working with resource development, publicity, marketing, website maintenance.
The Food Bank offers a donation drive tool kit for those who want to help out and gather Food Bank donations by initiating their organization, department, and business to make contributions. You can get a bin from the AS Food Bank and get your peers and colleagues to donate goods.
If you would like to give to the AS Food Bank, and contribute to food purchases for student distribution, visit https://foodbank.as.ucsb.edu/donate/
Make sure to check out the AS Food Bank on the third floor of the University Center, and take advantage of their programs as a student.