KEYT: Assemblymember visits UCSB Food Pantry to highlight student food insecurity

Saturday, October 14, 2017

By Alys Martinez, KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - State Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) paid a visit to UC Santa Barbara's food pantry to highlight what the campus is doing to combat food insecurity. Limón authored AB 453 which was adopted into this year's state budget and went into effect in July. Over five years, 7.5 million dollars will be available to help feed students pursuing higher education at campuses across California.

"This is something we've seen as a big issue and not just in the state of California, but around the country," Limón said.

An average of 400 students per day visits UC Santa Barbara's food pantry. "This started as a grassroots movement on campus by our students for our students," said Associated Students President Hieu Le. In a 2016 systemwide study of UC students, 42% of respondents reported being food insecure; 23% have low food security; and 19% have very low food security. Thanks to Limón's action, programs like food pantries, meal plans and community gardens will benefit.

"Students who are healthier do better in school and are able to successfully graduate from college," Limón said.

UCSB student Sonia Martinez said money often goes to rent and books first. She has utilized the food pantry to get items like fruit, rice and vegetables. "I didn't always have access to food. I don't have a car, so sometimes it's harder to get to more affordable grocery stores," Martinez said.

Limón is looking at UC Santa Barbara as a model for what other campuses can do to make sure no one goes hungry while they are going to school and to see how certain programs could grow with additional funding.