The audience was packed at the most recent ASUCR meeting as numerous student organizations including Providing Opportunities, Dreams and Education in Riverside (PODER), urged ASUCR to approve the creation of a food pantry on campus to help alleviate food expenses for students.
After a lengthy presentation and discussion, ASUCR unanimously approved a resolution that would create a development committee with the pantry’s co-sponsors.
Co-sponsors included Undocumented Student Programs and the UC Global Food Initiative which provided $2,000 and $2,500 for the pantry, respectively. After the resolution was passed, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs James Sandoval pledged an additional $10,000 for the program. Despite showing support for the initiative, ASUCR did not state whether they would fund the pantry in the resolution.
According to a 2012 UC undergraduate survey, 35 percent of UCR students claimed that they skipped meals to save money. In response, Daniel Lopez, a fellow from the UC Global Food Initiative and third-year business student, modeled the resolution after a similar initiative made by UC Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin.
“Because of rising tuition, increased book costs, as well as living expenses, a lot of students were left to decide whether they wanted to feed themselves or to continue going to school because food is usually the first of all expenses to go,” Lopez stated.
While senators were receptive of the resolution, there were issues regarding the location of the pantry. Senator Reem Blaik supported using the ASUCR kitchen, stating, “There are a lot of things we do not use and I would like to see those things removed since we do attend a campus that desperately needs this pantry.”
Vice President of External Affairs Abraham Galvan was worried that using ASUCR office spaces could create problems. “There would be a lot of traffic coming through AS (offices) and would bring problems with anonymity as students would have to cross through there,” Galvan elaborated.
Galvan also urged ASUCR to create a committee that would look for potential pantry locations and to see if funding the project is feasible. The development committee was added as an amendment to the resolution, which was approved.
Arturo Gomez, a second-year political science major, criticized the decision to fund initiatives such as R’Gear as opposed to the food pantry. “From what I’ve heard from friends, this is a $40,000 (sic) expenditure that could have been used to fund the food pantry, which is something of high priority to our students who are skipping meals to save money,” Gomez said.
-Elections Director Stephanie Rose announced that the application deadline for ASUCR candidates was extended until March 13.
-Feminism Awareness Week, an event to clarify rumors regarding feminism and gender equality, has been pushed back until April.
-ASUCR approved a $3,686 allocation to improve the community garden.