The UC Board of Regents met with the Investments Subcommittee and newly created Basic Needs Committee on Tuesday, the first of its regular three-day meeting, at UCSF Mission Bay.
The UC system’s Special Committee on Basic Needs was approved during the board’s meeting in November 2018. Though the committee is new, its predecessor, the Food Access and Security committee, was launched in 2014 under President Janet Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative. The committee’s goals have broadened in scope over the past four years, addressing housing and financial insecurity in addition to food insecurity.
At the end of two years, the committee is expected to produce a report providing an overview of basic needs at all UC campuses and ways in which campus and systemwide programs are addressing these issues.
Tim Galarneau, co-chair of the committee, said they are currently working on models based on prevention, sustainable institutionalization, advocacy and research. He added that the committee has created the “largest” dataset on food insecurity among college students in the nation.
“There’s no other system in the country that is doing this,” said co-chair Ruben Canedo during the meeting. “There’s no other system in the country that believed in students’ basic needs the way that the UC has.”
According to the 2016 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey and Graduate Student Well-Being Survey, 44 percent of undergraduate students and 26 percent of graduate students reported having experienced food insecurity during their enrollment. The same surveys revealed that 5 percent of both UC undergraduate and graduate student populations experienced homelessness at some point during their enrollment.
The regents then heard from Student Regent-designate and UCSD graduate student Hayley Weddle and UCSD Basic Needs Coordinator Alicia Magallanes on the progress that UCSD has made concerning basic needs. During her presentation, Magallanes asked the regents to explore “long-term” funding strategies to support her efforts.
“There is no secured funding for basic needs. … These initiatives are primarily funded through one-time funds,” Weddle said during the meeting. “I think we need to establish a baseline level of support at each campus.”
She added that only four UC campuses have basic needs coordinators, and there’s “no guarantee” that these positions will continue to exist.
Earlier in the day, the regents heard from Jerry Nickelsburg, director of UCLA Anderson Forecast, during the Investments Subcommittee’s meeting. Nickelsburg provided an economic forecast for both California and the United States for 2019 and predicted that unemployment, personal income and housing permits would all increase in California during the upcoming year.
Regent Michael Cohen said he hopes the basic needs committee can think beyond the “two-year timeline” and ideally have fully fledged programs at the start of next fiscal year, given that Gov. Gavin Newsom recently allocated $15 million to the UC system specifically for housing and student hunger aid.
“We all agree that there’s no student who should go without quality food and housing,” said Regent Darin Anderson during the meeting. “We want to keep the costs as low and affordable as possible.”