Study examines food insecurity in California’s higher education system

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The California Policy Lab, or CPL, released a study quantifying the number of CalFresh participants in the California higher education system on February 23.

The study found that in the 2019-2020 academic year, 11.8% of undergraduate students in the UC system and 4% of graduate students in the UC system were enrolled in CalFresh and receiving food assistance.

“Providing the baseline CalFresh participation metrics we have in our report is a useful starting point to inform the kinds of strategies our partners might want to pilot,” CPL postdoctoral researcher Elise Dizon-Ross said in an e-mail. mail.

Prior to the study, the number of students participating in CalFresh was unclear, Jesse Rothstein, a campus professor and co-author of the study, said in a press release. Partnering with CPL, he said, will allow schools to understand CalFresh participation trends and allow for the development of additional strategies to make the resources more accessible.

The layoffs and instability caused by the pandemic and the flexibility of eligibility, coupled with the increase in the amount of benefits provided by CalFresh, may have increased the number of participants in the program, Dizon-Ross noted.

Additional legislation has been established to expand student eligibility to access benefits, and colleges have stepped up efforts to address food insecurity among their students, Dizon-Ross said in the email.

“While perceptions may seem like food insecurity among students is on the rise, the sad reality is that it’s been around forever,” said Genie Kim, director of student mental health and wellbeing at the CPU system.

In 2019, the university received ongoing funding to establish basic services for students in need of support, Kim said. She added that raising awareness about food insecurity has also allowed students to access available services and support.

Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said in an email that food-insecure students should contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and the campus pantry to access assistance. emergency.

“The well-being of our students is important, and we at Student Affairs want to make sure students know there are resources available year-round,” Ratliff said in the email. “We want to make sure our students can access food and feel supported.”

Lauren Cho is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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