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Memorial Union to Gain New Services for Basic Needs

By Cody Kitaura/Dateline on April 17, 2018 in University

UC Davis will soon make it easier for students to find resources for basic needs like food, housing and access around campus.

Three vacant spaces in the Memorial Union’s east wing will be filled by the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, a new service to point students toward resources to help fulfill basic needs like food, housing and financial wellness; and Student Disability Center and ASUCD Pantry satellite locations. Openings are scheduled for later this spring, with grand opening events forthcoming. Negotiations are underway to fill a fourth space.

A floor plan of the Memorial Union's east wing.
A floor plan of the Memorial Union's east wing shows the planned locations of the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, Pantry and Student Disability Center satellite locations, and more.

“One of the main goals is to be a physical location where students can access resources immediately, and that includes getting food,” said Leslie Kemp, Aggie Compass director. “It’s a community space where students can be comfortable accessing basic needs resources and picking up fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Aggie Compass will host programs like Fruit and Veggie Up! — providing free produce. Representatives from CalFresh, California’s food assistance program for low-income residents, will also be on hand to enroll students who qualify. The center will also direct students toward resources for mental wellness, financial aid and housing.

“This is a hub for resources that we can gather for students in need, both on campus and in the community,” Kemp said.

Other food options will be available nearby in the new satellite location for The Pantry, the Associated Students of UC Davis program that will keep its main space in the basement of Freeborn Hall.

The third space will house a satellite office of the Student Disability Center, which will serve as a visible, central location for quick questions or to schedule appointments for more in-depth visits.

“We want to have a presence that’s more central on campus,” said Jennifer Billeci, director of the Student Disability Center. The main office is located in the Cowell Building on the north side of campus, a location Billeci said can take some effort to reach for people with mobility disabilities.

That location will remain for confidential appointments, but the new location in the Memorial Union will help with outreach, quick questions or problems with technology, she said. It will also give students who are served by the center another place to gather.

“We also want to add a sense of community for the students we serve,” Billeci said. “There will be small groupings of furniture where people can sit with each other and talk.”

When the Memorial Union renovation was completed last year, some spaces were left vacant for the ASUCD to use how it saw fit. ASUCD President Josh Dalavai said he’s glad to see these organizations fill the spaces.

“We hope to prioritize and facilitate basic need security on campus by partnering with these wonderful organizations,” he said.

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