Chico, Calif. -- Having access to affordable healthy meals can be challenging for some students who simply don't have enough money to pay for them.
A program at Chico State University called, the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry, works to fight this challenge. The program recently received great news.
Senate bill 85 was signed into law in June 2017 to expand the fight against student hunger.
Chico State University was awarded the largest grant of the CSU campuses at $155,000. $80,000 went towards the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry.
For many college students, the costs of living and the costs of school supplies are a necessary part of life, but what about the cost of food?
"About half of Chico State students suffer from food insecurity so we've tried to help them by providing supplemental food through the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry," said Joe Picard, Basic Needs Administrator at CSUC.
Food insecurity means not having reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. The Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry at Chico State is hoping to change the status quo.
"We provide supplemental food here at the pantry to help students learn so they can graduate and become a part of the community," said Picard.
Administrators, like Picard, buy foods from local sources in order to encourage students to have healthy options to choose from.
"He's really trying to locally source the items or even our small local farmers from our farmer's markets and the relationships he's developed, he's been able to stock our pantries with really healthy food," said Stephanie Bianco, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition & Food Science.
On average 80 students stop by the food pantry each day and when students come back from break, the numbers are even higher.
Students who work at the pantry create an inviting environment for a situation that might be uncomfortable to those receiving help.
"A lot of students are like that where it's like, fend for yourself do what you have to do to find your own food, but a pantry like this helps me feel less ashamed because it's so warm and welcoming," said Cassandra Hernandez, a student who uses the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry.
"I think at the most human level, it's our job to take care of each other and make sure we have enough to eat and do well in school," said Yee Yang, Student Staff Member at the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry.
To date, the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry has served more than 4,000 students.
This additional funding will enable the CSU campuses to better support students by expanding services like meal-sharing programs, Calfresh enrollment and emergency grants.
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