The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to UC Santa Barbara. With a virtual Spring quarter, many students have moved out of Isla Vista and on-campus residence halls and returned to their hometowns. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now and for some of us, the biggest challenge is getting access to food that is nutritious and affordable. During this time, it may be especially difficult to get to the grocery store and access healthy foods. However, there are resources available for our UC Santa Barbara community that address food security, specifically during this pandemic. While facing these difficult times we are so grateful for the individuals that are working tirelessly to ensure access to these vital resources.
The Associated Students Food Bank located on the second floor in the University Center is open during Spring Quarter with altered hours. Every Wednesday and Friday from 10 am - 3 pm, the Food Bank distributes brown bags of groceries to students. At this time, the Food Bank is not open for shopping, just brown bags of groceries sourced from the Santa Barbara County Food Bank and supplemented by on-campus food pantries. The AS Food Bank is available to UC Santa Barbara Undergraduate and Graduate students, which is verified through your Access Card and perm number. To access the Food Bank you must make under $14,484 per year and submit the Self-Declaration of Income form, which can be completed at the Food Bank or online.
UCSB Sustainability hosted a food distribution at the beginning of Spring Break which served 749 students. The Food Bank served as many as 400 students in the first week of Spring Quarter and numbers are only increasing as students are becoming aware of the resources available to them. For students who are sick, quarantined, or immuno-compromised, a partnership between the UCSB Food Security and Basic Needs Taskforce and UCSB Sustainability developed a grocery distribution program to deliver fresh produce and groceries to students in these situations. They have served 33 students in the first two weeks since the program launched. We are grateful to the students and staff that are working to keep these services open to our community of students.
The Miramar Food Pantry is another resource available to students that meet the same qualifications for the AS Food Bank. The Miramar Food Pantry is located in the Sierra Madre Villages court located behind the administrative office. During Spring Quarter, they are open from 4 pm - 6 pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. At Miramar, students wait in line 6 feet apart and tell the staff which items from the pantry they would like. The staff at Miramar Food Pantry is practicing the proper sanitation measures to ensure all students’ safety.
The Edible Campus Program’s Student Farm is open 3 days a week during Spring Quarter. The farm is a partnership of the AS Department of Public Worms, UCSB Sustainability, and AS Food Bank. Through the leadership of Jessie Schmitt, the farm has been recognized as an essential service and been permitted to continue growing healthy fruits and vegetables to feed our students. Also, the Edible Campus education team is working to transition our workshops to web-based formats as in-person events of all sizes have been canceled.
Another on-campus resource available during this time is the Student Needs Advising Center, located in the UCen (next to Jamba Juice). Their hours of operation for in-person advising can be found here. Advocates are also available to virtually chat for students who prefer remote assistance. The Student Needs Advising Center provides live assistance during our regular hours and also responds to questions sent in after hours. Through this service, advocates can answer Calfresh, food security, and basic needs questions as well as connect students to other resources on campus. If a student wants assistance with a Calfresh application, a zoom meeting will guide them through the entirety of the process. SNAC has been actively working to digitize all services to make sure we are giving students exceptional assistance in light of COVID-19.
If you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 or any other reason, the UCSB Financial Crisis Response Team is also open to work with students. If you are facing challenges concerning grants, vouchers, scholarships, case management, and other forms of aid, send an email to email@example.com and they will respond within a 24-48 hour window and help you develop a plan of action. The Response Team may also assist in providing Emergency food grants.
We hope that all of the UC Santa Barbara community is staying healthy and safe and that the students in need are aware of the plethora of resources available to them. Finally, we want to express our gratitude to the students and staff that are working to provide these services for us during this time.