UC Davis is in the middle of one of the nation’s largest agricultural regions. Yet, many students can’t afford food.
With the money they do have, they find themselves resorting to unhealthy choices. A group of students are providing fresh fruit and vegetables on campus for free.
It’s 5 p.m. at The Silo on UC Davis’s campus. Hundreds of students are eating or talking about what's for dinner.
”I plan on having leftovers at home, so like some pasta” Olivia McGuigan says.
“I have defrosted some burger patties, so I’m probably gonna make a burger” Poolja Busara says.
”Grilled salmon” Paradee Limlamai says.
“I have no idea, I just eat whatever I feel like” Mary Pham says.
Many students at UC Davis don’t worry much about what they have to eat. But for some students, they lack money to buy food.
That's where the UC Davis student-run food bank The Pantry, comes in.
Tara Storm is the director of The Pantry.
”Students come to the pantry because they are having difficulties affording their meals," she says. "We act as a resource for students that can’t afford food staples or basic toiletries as well.”
Storm says The Pantry provides free food to approximately 200 to 400 students a week. But free food and healthy food are not always the same.
Which is why student, Kiko Barr, is bringing fresh produce to The Pantry.
Twice a week, Barr harvests produce from the Student Farm that's too blemished to be sold.
”It was actually my partner Nicole’s idea, she was my co-worker at Dining Services. She interned at the Student Farm and saw a lot of the food get composted that was completely edible just no one took home” says Barr.
That’s when she discovered The Pantry, which now receives the excess produce.
Sierra Henderson, a UC Davis student who relies on The Pantry for groceries says sometimes she doesn’t eat healthy because she can’t afford to.
“Ramen noodles are inexpensive and then some unhealthy foods are a lot cheaper than the healthier options like fresh produce," says Henderson. "So I think its really great that thats something that students can look forward to when they come here as well.”
The addition of fresh produce at The Pantry is still in its trial phase, but it has proved to be popular. Most of the produce Barr drops off, goes quickly.
Storm says that The Pantry will continue to offer fresh produce for at least another quarter.
“Now students have that option if they wanted to eat healthier. Its no longer I can’t eat healthy because I can’t afford it, its now I have all these options.” says Storm.
-By Ana Padilla, Associate Producer