UC Irvine Opens Expanded Food Pantry

UC Irvine has expanded it's food pantry to address the rise in students' food struggles.

The now 1,800 square foot facility makes it the largest pantry in the University of California system and will be stocked with shelves of canned and dried foods, coolers for refrigerated and frozen items, toiletries and a kitchenette complete with blenders, a convection oven, a microwave and a coffee machine.

Students can sit and talk, or they can browse cookbooks or they can take seeds to try and grow their produce.

The pantry is a part of the UC Global Food Initiative to try to curb food insecurity.

Last year, a system wide survey found that 4 in 10 students did not have a consistent source of nutritious food. 

It also found that almost one-third of the nearly 9,000 students surveyed had a hard time studying because of hunger and that about one-fourth had to choose between paying for food or for educational expenses and housing.

UCI's basic needs coordinator, Andrea Gutierrez says almost 44% of their students lack consistent access to nutritious food, nearly 19% are forced to skip meals and go hungry and 25% eat regularly but with cheap, non-nutritious food like instant ramen or fast food.

With the pantry, students are allowed to take home two bags of healthy groceries a week.

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