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Field Reports

Beyond the Basics: A Comprehensive Look at CalFresh and Food Access on UCI’s Campus

Denise Ramos-Vega, Emerson Fellow
Published 2023-2024

Irvine, California

According to a recent federal study, 22.6% of students face low or very low food security (9.4% and 13.2%, respectively). At University of California, Irvine (UCI), the narrative is no different. In fact, the numbers are much higher. According to the University of California 2022 Undergraduate Experiences Survey (UCUES), 42% of undergraduate students experience some sort of food insecurity, a rate almost twice that of the federal survey.

Food insecurity is a prevalent issue throughout the United States with the COVID-19 pandemic solely exacerbating the challenge, especially among college students. Hunger affects students in a variety of ways. From mental health implications to physical health challenges, to social burdens, students are affected holistically, thus solutions put forth should also keep in mind all beyond basic needs.

At UCI, the UCI Basic Needs Center provides an oasis for students whose basic needs are not being met. Housed on the intersection of Academy Way & Peltason Drive where Cafe Med once stood, this center provides students with access to a plethora of resources under one roof. One of the most valuable is CalFresh Application assistance as it provides students with long-term support to meet their nutritional needs. This report aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the outreach efforts put forth by the UCI Basic Needs Center’s CalFresh Team to maximize CalFresh awareness amongst the UCI community. Although heavily based on numerical data, the report will also dive into first-hand accounts of event attendees and their feedback. Additionally, insight into initiatives such as the FRESH Pantry and Mobile Food Pantry by the Basic Needs Center will be highlighted.

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Publication tags: Field Reports