CSUB Food Pantry aims to bridge the gap between poverty and nutrition with help of local nonprofits

Jordan Fraizer, Features Writer

Figure 1: Food pantry from the outside. The Food Pantry is located next to the student union. (Alyson Bravo)

With a view of the bright blue and yellow signs outside, Runners may recognize the familiar view of the CSU Bakersfield Food Pantry.  

When presented with a poll on The Runner’s Instagram, 35% of responding Runners reported that they did not have access to what are classified as healthy foods.  

This indicates that while the CSUB Food Pantry offers supplemental access to healthy foods for free, many Runners may not realize that the service is available to them. 

Ilaria Pesco, the Assistant Vice President of Student Success/Student Affairs and Executive Director of Associated Students Inc., said that the CSUB Food Pantry opened in Sept. 2017.  

It provides services to all students, faculty, and staff with the help of Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) and Golden Empire Gleaners, local non-profits that make large donations to the food pantry. 

Pesco said that students can redeem 16 points per week to shop for items that range from zero to three points at the food pantry. These items regularly include canned goods, dried beans and rice, snack items, microwave meals, and more.  

Zero point items are free in the food pantry, but there is a limit on the quantity of certain items that a student can take, such as cakes, cookies, and fresh produce grown in the school garden.

One point grocery items typically consist of various snacks, including granola bars and chips. Two points items include microwavable ramen meals, beans, and food that can make a single meal. Three point items include peanut butter and pasta sauce, as well as other items that can create multiple meals.   

As Runners arrive at the pantry, they will be invited inside in reduced numbers due to COVID-19, and a facial covering is required for entry.  

The Food Pantry accepts donations for personal hygiene items. They are then distributed to students as a 0 point item, allowing students to take what they need. (Jordan Fraizer)

It is recommended that Runners bring their own bag or box, as the browsing and bagging process is primarily self-serve. Staff members will be available to check Runner out and answer any questions. 

Pesco explained that students without a CSUB ID would only have to show food pantry staff one of their school accounts, such as Canvas, Blackboard, or MyCSUB to verify that they are a student. 

With the help of local food banks, the Food Pantry has been able to continue helping hungry Runners.  

The Golden Empire Gleaners and CAPK are responsible for supplying the bulk of the food received by supplemental nutrition programs across the county. 

According to Glen A. Ephrom, the Executive Director of the Golden Empire Gleaners, they provide food to two million people in Kern County each year, and can provide between 130 to 140 food items to people in a single hour. 

Another local organization, CAPK, provided more food to county residents than any other in 2019. 

CAPK is another core food distributor in Bakersfield that provides large quantities of food to each of the local food banks across Kern County, according to James Burger, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator of CAPK.  

CAPK estimates that it donated 1.6 million pounds of food monthly to county residents each month in 2019. 

The Food Pantry at CSUB relies on donations from local food banks and community members. Anyone interested in making a donation would have to fill out a form, listing the items that are being donated. 

A variety of coffee can regularly be found at the Food Pantry. (Jordan Fraizer)

Donations can be delivered to the Food Pantry during hours of operation, or to the Student Union help desk between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.. 

Popular food items to donate to the CSU Bakersfield food pantry would include peanut butter, macaroni boxes, and uncooked beans. More information on commonly needed items can be found on the Food Pantry’s website. 

Runners are also welcome to donate their time and volunteer at the Food Pantry or the Edible Garden if they want to lend a hand. 

For those facing food insecurity, visit www.211kerncounty.org for a full list of resources available locally.