Triton Food Pantry Raises Funds for Healthy Food

UCSD’s Triton Food Pantry met and exceeded its goal of raising $7500 last week as part of its new effort to provide healthier options to students. The organization created a Crowdsurf page, UCSD’s crowdfunding platform for students and campus projects, early fall quarter as part of its ongoing service to provide free food to students on-campus and have now raised $8290.

Managers of the Pantry will use the money from the fundraiser to provide fresh produce and other perishable items in an effort to offer more nutritious options for students. These funds will allow the Triton Food Pantry to cover the cost of non-perishable goods for the entire year and will provide over 30,000 meals to students.

Triton Food Pantry student manager Jeremy Snyder gave a presentation at the Oct. 7 A.S. Council meeting and discussed future plans for the service.

He talked about expanding the scope of services provided by the pantry, including adding a larger fridge, offering more perishable goods and possibly placing donations bins around campus. Snyder also mentioned the possibility of delivery options for students, a meal voucher program and even bringing CalFresh food stamps to campus.

Snyder told the UCSD Guardian about his personal experiences with food insecurity and how that has motivated his work.

“It’s important personally to me because I’ve had to deal with it, last year in particular, so I know the burden it can be on students and the deleterious effect it can have on their academic success and personal relationships,” Snyder said. “We should be able to provide everything our students need to be successful.”

A.S. Advisor Hayley Weddle explained to the Guardian how surveys of UCSD students indicated that many skipped meals in order to save money, thus laying the impetus for the creation of the food pantry.

“The need for the resource on campus is significant,” Weddle said. “As recent survey data shows, 25 percent of UCSD students skip meals ‘somewhat’ to ‘very often’ in order to save money.”

Furthermore, Snyder disclosed that there are even students who consider dropping out because of how difficult it is for them to find affordable food.

“Every week, there are students who tell me personally that if the food pantry didn’t exist, they would’ve dropped out of school by now because financial aid just isn’t significant enough,” Snyder said. “So I think we are having a beneficial impact on campus but I don’t think it’s impactful enough yet. Our goal is to provide food for every student that needs it, and we don’t have the resources for that yet.”

Several campus organizations, including University Centers, A.S. Council, the Financial Aid Office and Office of Student Affairs, created and opened the pantry this past February with the purpose of providing food for students in need. Since it opened, the pantry has served almost 200 students per week, with usage increasing to 250 students per week during the summer months.

The university has supported the Triton Food Pantry since its establishment in February by giving the pantry a space to use while covering its utilities and maintenance costs.

“University Centers, with the support of the University Centers Advisory Board, designated a space at the Student Center for the pantry,” University Centers director Sharon Van Bruggen told the Guardian. “Previously, the space generated rental income and covered its share of utilities, custodial and maintenance costs, but University Centers now absorbs the costs as part of our ongoing contribution.”

Additionally, the university helped provide staff and equipment to renovate the space and the Office of Student Affairs helped to cover construction costs and other materials.

Aside from renovations and leasing space, the Triton Food Pantry also receives funding from UCSD and the University of California. The Vice Chancellor Student Affairs Office donated $50,000 to the pantry last year and the UC Office of the President provided $75,000 in funding. Moreover, A.S. Council allocated $16,400 to the Triton Food Pantry last year.