Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.34
Liaison Elida Erickson
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Santa Cruz
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Ellen Vaughan
Water & Climate Action Manager
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Cowell Food Hub (Food Security Program)

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:
The Cowell Coffee Shop for the Peoples—an innovative nontransactional food store and cafe designed to address food access issues for the student population.

The cafe located at Cowell College opened on Nov. 7, 2018 and offers free coffee, prepared meals, a juicing station and pastries to provide low income students with healthy options and alleviate stressors related to feeding themselves, which can ultimately have detrimental effects on their academic pursuits.

“Food and housing are the biggest costs for students while at UCSC,” said Tim Galarneau, the Community Engaged Education Coordinator at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. “We’ve found that since students were given the option to opt-out of meal plans many of them will skip meals, eat less or run out of food in an attempt to save costs. This ultimately harms their quality of life and prospects for academic success.”

Because of the extreme housing costs in Santa Cruz, students living both off and on campus need about $34,000 per year. Some students attempting to get by with less will make cuts in their food budget.

Galarneau and others participated in the 2016 Global Food Initiative—a survey of approximately 63,000 students across the UC system, which found that 44 percent of undergraduates and 26 percent of graduate students had experienced food insecurity at some point during their collegiate stint.

Specific to UCSC, the initiative interviewed 605 students and found that 57 percent reporting experiencing low and very low food security, which includes running out of food, skipping meals, and eating less than required due to financial pressures.

“While we cannot solve structural inequality in the UC alone, we can introduce interventions that support greater student food security and success,” Galarneau said.

Cowell's Coffee Shop was created to innovatively address this pressing social justice concern.

The shop, along with giving students access to meals and pastries, also runs workshops about food preparation, knife use, and other skills necessary for students to feed themselves as many of them grapple with the experience of being on their own for the first time.

The cafe is 100 percent student run, with 12 students taking part of the leadership team, while four others develop the programing which includes workshops but also links to financial aid, housing help and statewide programs like CalFresh (http://www.cdss.ca.gov/food-nutrition/calfresh).

One of the most effective aspects of the coffee shop is how it does not require students to sign up or qualify to use the cafe, a requirement that could potentially carry a stigma that can chase students away.

For the coffee shop, students simply have to swipe their ID card, which also helps Galarneau and others compile statistics regarding the who uses the cafe, how often and other similar metrics that can help the administration better tailor their services to a dynamic student population.

The cafe is also partnering with the Dean of Students Slug Support food pantry to make sure that students not only have access to meals, coffee, tea and pastries through the cafe, but can find canned goods and fresh organic, student grown produce from the CASFS farm to take back to on or off campus housing.

“We have a ‘take what you need’ policy,” said Remy Stewart, who works in the pantry on behalf of the university. “We have so many students coming here, I think there is no longer any illusions about how severe a problem it is.”

Much of the produce is provided by UC Farm and Garden and the Second Harvest Food Bank provides much of the canned goods and other items available at both the cafe and the pantry.

“We want to let people know that access to food and access to good quality food is a basic human right,” said Walker.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Food & Dining
Diversity & Affordability
Wellbeing & Work

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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