CALIFORNIA REPORT: A Space for Students Who Need Something to Eat

27 Mar
The grand opening of the University of California, Irvine food pantry in September. Steve Zylius/University of California, Irvine
Good morning.
As you walk into the room at University of California, Irvine the first thing you notice are the fruit and vegetable baskets: apples, onions, broccoli. There’s a table of students chatting and eating, while one thumbs through a cookbook.
It’s called the Basic Needs Hub — a space for anyone on campus who needs something to eat. It looks like a miniature gourmet grocery, but it is, effectively, a food pantry.
The grand opening of the University of California, Irvine food pantry in September.
Steve Zylius/University of California, Irvine
For the last six months, the doors to the hub have been wide open, and the pantry has doled out produce, meat and granola bars, among other goods. Students are not required to show any proof of income to receive the food, though they do receive a document stating that it is meant for those who cannot afford it on their own.
“We are making it O.K. for students to say that they do need help,” said Edgar Dormitorio, the assistant vice chancellor of students affairs. “We know there are students who do without meals rather ask for assistance. We want this to be as low barrier as possible.”
A 2016 study found that roughly four in 10 students in the University of California system went hungry at least some of the time. At the Basic Needs Hub, students are asked for basic demographic information, like where they live and what year they are in college.
“Our hope is we know the needs better and cater to those needs,” he said.
The pantry is paid for in part by a $3 fee students approved in a campuswide vote last year, as well as money set aside from the office of U.C. system’s president.
“For students, knowing there is somewhere to get your food and feel dignified doing that, it is an empowering thing,” said Ernest Devin Rankin, 19, a sophomore in public health policy and educational science, who works at the pantry part time. “We have frozen meat, eggs, bread, milk, cereal — all that goes quickly. Fruit, granola bars, that stuff goes out in a second, we can’t stock it fast enough.”
California Online
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
A bald eagle near Big Bear Lake, in the San Bernardino National Forest, in 2016.
Robin Eliason/United States Forest Service
• “These eagles are more than just a symbol.” How a group of volunteers participate in an expedition to count bald eagles in Southern California. [The New York Times]
• The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is now making release dates of anyone in jail publicly available online, including those living in the country illegally. The move is a rejection of the state’s so-called sanctuary state laws, which strictly limit how local law enforcement officers communicate with federal immigration agents. [The Los Angeles Times]
• One legislative leader is scoffing at the idea of advancing a single-payer public health insurance system this year and instead proposing his own, more narrow approach, to universal coverage. [The Sacramento Bee]
• The California attorney general, Xavier Becerra, is once again suing the Trump administration, this time over questions about citizenship on the 2020 census form. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Protesters gathered outside a fund-raiser attended by President Trump in Beverly Hills.
Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times, via Getty Images
“We’re all in the ghetto now.” One writer sees parallels between the distorted reality of Inglewood and South Los Angeles and the way the state of California is now perceived in Trump’s America. [The New York Times]
• With rents soaring throughout the state, activists in several cities are pushing for local ballot measures to enact rent control. Advocates for renters say the state has reached a “breaking point.” [Orange County Register]
• San Francisco may look like a boomtown, but it turns out people are leaving. In the last two years, more people left the Bay Area than moved into it, raising questions about the sustainability of growth there. [The Wall Street Journal]
• A chile vendor who owes her landlord nearly $100,000 is struggling to hold on to her spot in L.A.’s Grand Central Market, where many stalls sell high-end food to an increasingly younger clientele. [The Los Angeles Times]
Some of the spots on the wall murals in King Tut’s tomb. “The paintings are not in as bad a condition as some have claimed; they are pretty stable,” said the project’s director, Neville Agnew of the Getty Conservation Institute.
The J. Paul Getty Trust
• No, those unsightly dark brown spots covering King Tut’s tomb are not getting worse, researchers at the Getty Conservation Institute said this week. But they are here to stay. [The New York Times]
• Maybe we should turn to the students to help fix the state’s finance system? They are the ones who see how bad it truly is. [Zocalo]
• A decade ago, Janet was a drug and alcohol counselor, as well as a married homeowner. Today, she is living on the streets of Fresno, addicted to methamphetamine, which she says helps her stay awake and safe. [The Fresno Bee]
• Join us: Discuss the state of dining in California with three powerhouse chefs in Los Angeles on April 10 at 7 p.m. Melissa Clark, the New York Times food writer and cookbook author, moderates a discussion with some of Los Angeles’s leading chefs — Jessica Koslow, owner of Sqirl; Niki Nakayama, chef and owner of n/naka; and Susan Feniger, TV personality, chef and co-owner of Border Grill restaurants — about the future of American restaurants, the impact of the #MeToo movement in kitchens and the evolving meaning of California cuisine. Visit for tickets and details.
And Finally …
Who needs televised freeway chases? They’ve been replaced — at least temporarily — by migrating whales. For hours on Monday, two gray whales swam through the river channel separating Long Beach and Seal Beach, with crowds growing as the morning wore on. The cameras were just behind.
There were no signs of distress, experts said, though many bystanders worried that the 25-foot-long whales would get stuck in the shallow water. Whale sightings are common near the shore this time of year, as the whales head north for their annual migration. Scientists who watched the footage said they would most likely return to the ocean later today.
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see:
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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