At many institutions, food pantries are evolving to meet students’ needs in creative, effective ways. For example, at UC San Francisco, a weekly food market has now become a permanent space, offering recipes based on the food available at the pantry. At UC Davis, the food programs source produce from student farms, plus their food pantry moved locations to be more student-facing. Students can also choose between ordering online and visiting in person.

Students often help staff campus food pantries, too, said Martin Tellez, assistant director for basic needs at UC Davis. “It changes the dynamic when the person helping you might be a CalFresh recipient themselves,” he said. “And they can really talk to how they use their benefits or locations where they can get some really good food items.”

Adapting to each campus’ individual circumstances is important. Food insecurity is different for every student, according to Tellez, and there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all solution.”

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