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Cal State LA Food Pantry supports students with free curbside grocery service

October 15, 2020

By Myles Bridgewater-Jackman | Cal State LA News Service

The Cal State LA Food Pantry has launched a free curbside food pickup service to help meet the basic needs of students during the COVID-19 crisis.

The biweekly food distribution is a collaboration with the Division of Student Life, University Auxiliary Services and Dining Services and is the latest campus initiative to support Cal State LA students during the pandemic.

“The Food Pantry was a valuable resource before the pandemic,” said Vice President for Student Life Nancy Wada-McKee. “But offering the program is even more critical now that so many students are experiencing job, housing and food insecurity.”

Students receive an array of fresh food and non-perishable items, covering each of the five food groups. From grains and proteins to fruits and vegetables, nutrition is prioritized, Wada-McKee noted. Students can also choose vegetarian options. 

Students can visit the Cal State LA Food Pantry webpage to get more information about utilizing this important campus resource.

The food distribution is the most recent Cal State LA initiative to assist students during a difficult and dynamic period.

The university has purchased thousands of laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to help students with their virtual curriculum. Staff from Student Life, Information Technology Services and the University Library worked together to distribute the technology in recent weeks.

As part of its anchor mission to serve surrounding communities, Cal State LA has teamed up with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Los Angeles County, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and private-sector partners to distribute free food in recent months to thousands of families across Los Angeles. On Oct. 15, Cal State LA partnered with the YMCA of LA and Optimum Seismic Inc. to pass out food at the Crenshaw Family YMCA.

Staff pack grocery bagsDuring the first week of the new Food Pantry program, which began on Oct. 12, Cal State LA provided a steady supply of groceries to students.

The process for students is simple: sign up, schedule a time and pick up the food. The distribution is handled smoothly and safely, adhering to guidance and protocols of the California Department of Public Health and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

As students pulled up to the loading dock behind the Golden Eagle building, staff members donning protective masks carried pre-assembled bags down a short set of steps to awaiting vehicles. A simple pop of the trunk or a rolled-down back window allowed staff members to place the grocery items in students’ vehicles while maintaining a safe distance during the handoff.

The bags also contain flyers encouraging students to reach out to UAS Food Service Director and Executive Chef Daniel Keenan for cooking instructions, questions and suggestions.

In the future, the program plans to build on Keenan’s expertise by including recipes in the bags and providing virtual cooking sessions with the executive chef.

“Our goal is to do all we can to make sure our students eat nutritious and delicious meals,” Keenan said.

Donations to the Food Pantry can be made by visiting the Food and Housing Security Initiatives webpage.  

Photos: Top, The Cal State LA Food Pantry has launched a new curbside grocery distribution for students. Bottom, UAS employees pack bags of groceries. (Credit: Robert Huskey)

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit