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Titans Tackle Food Insecurity

Pilot Program Encourages Students to Donate Guest Meals
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Empowering students to help fellow Titans who experience food insecurity, Cal State Fullerton’s Housing and Residence Life is piloting a donated meals campaign through the month of September.

The campaign asks the 1,900 residents in the student housing community to consider donating one of their eight allotted guest meals for the semester to a student in need. Aramark, the food service provider for CSUF’s Gastronome, will match each donated meal.

“If all 1,900 residents give a meal, with Aramark’s match, we can collect nearly 4,000 meals for students in need,” said Larry Martin, director of CSUF’s Housing and Residence Life, who learned of the idea at the Cal State University’s Food and Housing Security Conference this summer.

According to a recent CSU system report, approximately 21 to 24 percent of the 460,000 students across 23 campuses lack regular access to food and 8 to 12 percent live in unstable housing conditions.

CSUF students who would like to request meals should contact the Dean of Students Office, which will help determine their need and place a number of meals on their TitanCards.

“I’m glad we can create a system where students in need can access healthy meals at the Gastronome in the same way any other student would using their TitanCard,” said Martin. “It won’t be obvious that they have a donated meal.”

Students also can inquire with the dean’s office about emergency temporary housing. This semester, four spaces in the student housing community have been reserved for this purpose.

“We will be keeping one apartment offline for temporary needs — typically, we anticipate that to be no more than three weeks,” said Martin. “It’s really designed to give students a space while they create a long-term plan.”

Martin, who has worked for the University’s Housing and Residence Life for three years, said he has witnessed a steady influx of students needing temporary housing.

“In the past, we’ve helped students as much as we could — when we had a bed available here or there,” said Martin. “This is the first time we have a whole apartment reserved. We’ve seen the need, so it makes sense to have a dedicated space.”

The donated meals campaign and temporary housing program are just two of the efforts underway by CSUF’s Food and Housing Security Task Force, commissioned earlier this year by the Division of Student Affairs to examine food and housing insecurity on campus.

Other plans include a campuswide hygiene drive, a food pantry and an app that allows students to locate free food on campus.