Many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night. Among them are surprising numbers of college students, even at elite schools. Some of those schools have implemented programs aimed at alleviating food insecurity on their campuses.
One such example is the UCLA Community Programs Office (CPO) cross-cultural center, which has been helping low-income students for more than 30 years. In response to the economic downturn of 2008, the CPO opened the Food Closet, one of the nation’s first food pantries for college students. Over the past decade, program volunteers have recovered more than 60,000 pounds of food from local grocery stores and campus affiliates and diverted it to the food pantry. This food recovery and diversion program have become a model for other colleges and universities.
As a leading provider of waste management and recycling services in the City of Los Angeles, Athens Services is committed to recovering and diverting unwanted, edible food previously destined for landfills. Athens partners with several local community groups in this effort, including Beacon House, FoodCycle, Food Forward, and Saint Francis Center.
Recently, Athens donated $100,000 in grant funding to support the CPO program.* The funding will go toward the purchase of additional vehicles that will be used to make dozens of food pickups weekly from on-campus events, as well as nearby food banks, grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses. “Athens Services is proud to partner with the CPO to advance their goals of alleviating student hunger, promoting student empowerment, and reducing food waste in Los Angeles County,” said Athens Sustainability Manager Jessica Aldridge.
“We are excited to embark on a new opportunity to work with Athens Services and to expand efforts to reduce food waste in Los Angeles,” said Chidera I. Izuchukwu, UCLA Basic Needs Manager. “Together, this new partnership can play a pivotal role in ensuring UCLA students receive the support needed to be successful at UCLA and beyond.”
*Grants are made possible by the City of Los Angeles recycLA Food Recovery Program.