Enter Basic Needs, a service that gives UC San Diego students access to nutritious food, stable housing, and financial wellness resources. Rather than relying on a case manager to recommend a student needs special attention, students can self-refer online or by visiting The Hub, which is celebrated its one-year anniversary on Feb. 6.
Basic Needs coordinator Alicia Magallanes said the need for a service like this was recognized after the 2016 UC Global Food Initiative's Student Food Access and Security Study found that 44 percent of undergraduates and 26 percent of graduates experienced some level of food insecurity. It also found that 5 percent of both undergraduates and graduates had experienced homelessness during their time in college.
“Students coming into the college environment thinking that everyone else is okay,” she said. “They’re struggling in silence because they think ‘everyone has it figured out but me.’ And that’s just not the truth.”
That’s why The Hub was such an essential part of the services. Rather than feeling like they’re alone in a struggling financial or housing situation, students would realize that it’s actually a collective experience; not an isolated one. Now students have a place to learn about things like budgeting for meals, finding affordable rent and maximizing food resources.
And it’s happening. In the past year, The Hub has received more than 1,300 visitors (of which, 8 percent were graduate students) and counting. Nearly 400 students have attended a cooking demo, more than 30 students opted to use the Emergency Meal Assistance program and almost 600 applications were submitted for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program called CalFresh.
Patricia Maheffey, assistance vice chancellor of Student Life, said that when she first started working at the university, she realized many of the problems students were coming to her with could be traced back to a lack ok basic needs.
“They’re couch surfing and don’t have a stable home or they’re worried about food,” she said. “It’s not one place their issues emerge from, it’s often interconnected with other issues our students experience. There’s a little denial at first, but students are relieved when they see that we can support them and give them a chance to catch their breath.”
For more information about Basic Needs, visit basicneeds.ucsd.edu. Do donate to Basic Needs’ initiatives, visit espi.ucsd.edu/make-a-gift and search for “Basic Needs.”
What is food insecurity?
The United States Department of Agriculture separates food insecurity into two categories:
• Low food security refers to reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet, with little or no indication of reduced food intake.
• Very low food security refers too reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns due to limited resources.