R’Pantry gets donations, location. Opening delayed

Over the summer, the ASUCR senate met to propose and approve the location for the R’Food Pantry Initiative at UCR’s Bear Den. The project has received several other updates including a $75,000 donation from the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) Janet Napolitano and an additional $10,000 from UCR’s Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval. Despite this, an opening date is still tentative.

The location for the R’Pantry was decided during an August 19th ASUCR meeting with the goal that the space would be student-run and centrally-located. The proposal from the ASUCR senate minutes argued that “having [the food pantry] in the Bear’s Dean, would be visible, manageable, accessible, and convenient.” Previously, the R’Pantry lacked a permanent physical space and utilized a mobile food pantry located at the Community Center at Family Housing for its initial day of operation on May 27, 2015. A contract between administration and students was also proposed to limit administrative jurisdiction over the space.

UC President Janet Napolitano wrote in a letter to her colleagues back in March that she would be donating $75,000 per campus to further the UC Global Food Initiative(GFI). Napolitano launched the project last summer to promote sustainable food resources that address food insecurity amongst students and to a larger extent, the world.

Napolitano also encouraged UC campuses to match the funding that she was allotting in order to “to broaden the reach and impact of GFI support.” Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval followed suit with this suggestion and donated $10,000 of his own money towards the funding of R’Pantry totaling $85,000 for one year of operation.

A Campus Food Access and Security Implementation Plan drawn up by a committee of campus faculty and students has already decided where those funds will go. Student employment and training as well as salary and training of a full-time R’Pantry Coordinator who will oversee distribution and transportation of food, and data collection to maximize overall efficiency, which totals $53,168. Supplies and expenses will be another $5,000 and renovations and infrastructure for the food pantry will amount to $15,000. This puts the total cost of operation at $88,168. The source of the additional $3,168 needed has not been defined in the plan.

According the the implementation plan, renovations and the employment processes were supposed to be completed last summer yet they still remain unfinished. Vice Chancellor of Health and Wellness, Susan Allen Ortega, commented that the pantry will open “as soon as renovations to the space are complete and staff and student interns are in place.” A tentative date for the opening day is set anywhere from the end of fall quarter to the start of winter quarter 2016.

Michael Ervin, ASUCR vice president of campus internal affairs, spoke about the momentum and drive that students like third-year Linguistics and Anthropology double major, Global Food Initiative fellow and student head of the initiative Daniel Lopez have for the project but also recognizes the reality of the need for a long-term plan saying, “Food insecurity doesn’t disappear in a year, we can’t pretend like this is going to be a band-aid solution.” When asked about a long-term plan for sustainability Ortega commented “The university is committed to continuing to provide this support to students.”

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