Proposed food pantry to serve UC Davis students

Photo: cans of food
Photo: cans of food

Two UC Davis students are leading an effort to establish a food pantry to serve fellow students who are struggling to make ends meet.

Senior Justin Gold from the San Fernando Valley and junior Hannah Kirshner of Carmel are working through logistics — including health and safety inspections — and trying to raise funds to open The Pantry by Jan. 4.

Efforts at UC Davis follow recent openings of food banks on the campuses of Bakersfield College in California; Oregon State University; West Virginia University; and UCLA.

“I have friends who are struggling with school expenses, especially the recent fee increases,” said Gold, who is double majoring in philosophy and political science. “I want to help.”

A large increase in UC systemwide fees led to a total fee increase of 26 percent for UC Davis undergraduates from fall 2009 to fall 2010, and the UC Board of Regents has approved an additional 8 percent increase in systemwide fees for fall 2011.

In a spring survey of UC undergraduates, almost 25 percent of some 9,500 respondents from UC Davis reported that they somewhat to very often skipped meals to save money. Another 25 percent said they occasionally skipped meals.

“I don’t find myself in that position,” said Kirshner, a political science major. “That’s why I’m so motivated to help other students.”

The pantry has already collected about 130 pounds of canned goods and $1,000 in cash donations. Kirshner, formerly an external affairs commissioner for the Associated Students of UC Davis, and Gold, who serves as a student assistant to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, are trying to raise at least another $1,000 before the pantry opens so it can purchase some food to complement the donated food and provide a more well-rounded menu.

The organizers are proposing a menu of about 30 items, including high-protein foods like beans and peanut butter, pastas and grains, and bread. The pantry also will stock toiletries and feminine hygiene products.

The pantry, which will operate as a unit of the ASUCD, will be open from noon to 2 p.m. on weekdays in the basement of Freeborn Hall. Those who show a current UC Davis student identification card will be able to request three items a day for free.

The university has provided space and helped with logistics, Gold said. Student Housing has offered shelving, and the dining commons is providing temporary storage for the food already collected.

The pantry will invite campus groups to volunteer to help staff the pantry and participate in food drives. Donations can be made by check payable to “ASUCD” and mailed to The Pantry, UC Davis, One Shields Ave., ASUCD 347 Memorial Union, Davis, CA 95616.

UC Davis estimates that a year (three academic quarters) of undergraduate study at the campus costs California residents from $21,770 to $28,160 (including fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses), depending on their living arrangements.

More than 37 percent of UC Davis undergraduates receive Pell Grants, federal need-based grants for low-income students. In all, about 68 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid.

Among a range of financial aid, UC Davis provides short-term and emergency loans for students who are experiencing a temporary shortage of funds. The loans are for educational purposes only.

Media Resources

Julia Ann Easley, General news (emphasis: business, K-12 outreach, education, law, government and student affairs), 530-752-8248,

Justin Gold, (818) 515-3060,

Hannah Kirshner, (831) 402-8837,