Amid increasing demand from students, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry has officially partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank in order to provide greater access to food.
In response to an increased number of students using the pantry’s services, the pantry will begin receiving weekly deliveries of fresh produce, protein and grains from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, doubling their supply starting next month. Since the Food Pantry moved from Stiles Hall to the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union in October, the amount of students seeking food has tripled, pushing the pantry toward becoming a member of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
Ruben Canedo, chair of the campus’s Basic Needs Security Committee, cited increased visibility, word of mouth and proactive interns as reasons for the surge in popularity.
“Since being at the MLK student union, our numbers have doubled to tripled,” Canedo said.
According to Ruben, about 750 students visited the pantry in November and more than 500 visited during dead week and finals week. According to Jonah Feldman, a volunteer at the Food Pantry, about eight to 10 students had walked in within the first 45 minutes of his shift.
“The new normal for the pantry is to hit well above 500 visits per month,” Canedo said.
The Alameda County Community Food Bank was awarded Feeding America’s 2016 Food Bank Of The Year in April. According to Canedo, the bank was recognized for its devotion to providing a nutritious source of food for students.
According to Sue Coberg, Alameda County Community Food Bank associate director of agency relations, eating is often a question of choice for those in need.
“Our own research shows that most food bank clients are often making choices between food and other basic necessities like housing, medicine and utilities,” Coberg said in an email. “Furthermore, food bank clients are likely to rely on measures like watering down their food or buying the cheapest food available to make their food budget stretch as far.”
Coberg also noted the benefits of providing nutritionally sustainable food for students in order to support them in their educational pursuits.
“We must know that proper nutrition is critical to a person’s ability to develop, learn, and be productive,” Coberg said in an email. “This food is critical to a student’s success in school.”
Coberg said the collaboration will allow the pantry to make nutritional food more accessible to students on campus.
“Due to the increased need for food on college campuses, a partnership with UC Berkeley — to help students struggling to meet their basic needs — is a perfect match,” Coberg said in an email.