Sacramento State proudly debuted the pillars of its student basic needs services – the new CARES (Crisis Assistance and Resource Education Support) Office and the new, much larger Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Food Pantry – during a ceremony Monday, April 22, outside the University Union.
Several hundred members of the campus community and friends of the University attended the ribbon-cutting for CARES and the Food Pantry, located steps apart just inside a dedicated entrance on the Union’s north side.
“We know that tackling homelessness and food insecurity is messy work,” Sac State case manager Danielle Muñoz told the crowd. “There is no comfort for me in this work, and some of you here may have experienced the same discomfort as we work quickly to make sure our students have a safe place to sleep and enough food to eat.”
Reuben Greenwald, ASI’s director of Student Engagement & Outreach, said he anticipates that the Food Pantry will serve 10,000 Sac State students and their family members this year. That’s more than triple the number served in 2015, when the original pantry opened in Yosemite Hall.
The new Food Pantry is three times larger than the converted closet in Yosemite Hall, has twice as many shelving units and, for the first time, has a commercial refrigerator for storing produce and other perishables.
At the opening, Jody Nelsen, wife of President Robert S. Nelsen, addressed the stigma that students may feel when asking for help. When they were college students with a young son, she and her husband lived off food stamps for six months until they could get back on their feet.
“It is here because you are working hard, and you deserve it,” she said of the Food Pantry, which recently was stocked with 6,000 pounds of food and toiletries.
Mia Kagianas, president of the Cal State Student Association (CSSA) and immediate past president of ASI, congratulated Sac State for “leading the way across the California State University and the nation on what it means to be a caring campus.”
Echoing her words, President Nelsen said of students, “We are a campus that cares, where everyone belongs and should have a chance. Let’s be there for them and help them graduate and love them.” - Dixie Reid