You’ve probably heard of food banks, which tend to be large-scale operations that serve masses of people. The Community Programs Office at UCLA sponsors this mini-food bank for UCLA students who are struggling with food security issues (=they lack the resources to get enough to eat). Denise Guerra of The Campus Circle (started by a USC film grad) writes,
Located in a small closet at the Student Activities Center sits a large, mostly empty refrigerator. Next to it holds a pantry filled with various canned goods, breakfast cereal and instant ramen. A small table squeezes in front of the entrance with a large empty bowl made for holding fruit that has all been taken for the day.
Next to the bowl, a small guest book. In it students have written accounts of their gratitude to a program designed to directly address hunger on UCLA’s campus. From a small sentence, “Thanks for the raisins,” to longer, more detailed accounts, each passage reveals the individual struggles students face for one bite to eat.
One passage reads: “The hardest thing to accept is the notion that there are times in life when you become dependent on [the] charity of others.”
The Food Closet was envisioned by student Abdallah Jadallah and implemented through the help of the Community Programs Office (CPO) at UCLA.
For many, the idea of a food bank at one of the country’s most prestigious and affluent universities is an oxymoron. At UCLA, average parent incomes for incoming freshmen hover at about $101,000 a year. But in today’s ailing economy, growing numbers of students are finding it harder to obtain financial aid or receive enough assistance to pay for their $10,000-a-year university fee.
Issues around USC are like Westwood in that both neighborhoods can be pretty expensive places to eat. And they are dominated by corporate food chains whose products are often not that good for you, and frankly, are about as exciting as eating at LAX. But the USC neighborhood and community also have advantages such as more open space, an existing neighborhood garden culture, city council members interested in food security, health and greenspace issues. Do you think something like the food closet would fly at USC? Why or why not?