The UC Berkeley Food Pantry is one of several projects on campus which have been established to address students' food and housing insecurity. Established in 2014, the food pantry is a student-run organization that provides vital emergency relief to students, in addition to referring them to other basic needs services on campus. When it first opened its doors, the pantry attracted 500 students in the first year. Now, nearly 7,000 students out of 42,000 on campus use the service.
Students visiting the pantry have access to unlimited produce and bread, while shelf-stable foods are capped to five per visit, with a maximum of two visits per month. The Food Pantry also works with a dietician to ensure that all food provided to students is both high quality and nutritious. Much of the produce is also organic and local. In addition to the 200-300 pounds of produce purchased by student coordinators each week, the pantry also receives donations from farmers markets such as the one in Kensington, along with Monterey Market, Daylight Foods, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, individuals, and UC Berkeley’s own farms and gardens.
Over the summer, the food pantry was redesigned with the assistance of the College of Environmental Design, through the Design Build Community Partnership established by the embARC Summer Design Academy Program. Students built a modular shelving system for the pantry's basement space in the MLK student center, one that could respond and adapt with the UC Berkeley Food Pantry as it grows into different locations and configurations. In 2017, students designed and built a series of mobile carts and trailers designed to ease the friction in distribution of food from UC Berkeley's farm and garden spaces to the Food Pantry as well as increase the visibility and accessibility of the program on campus.
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