Lauren Denarola/HIGHLANDER

On Wednesday, April 19 from 12-1 p.m., the Student Action Council for Eradicating Poverty and Inequality (SACEPI) partnered with OverFlow to participate in Global Poverty Action Day. Together, they gathered at the Bell Tower to hold the “Fight to Fill the Plate” event to educate students about poverty at UCR.  

The focus of the event was to raise awareness of food insecurity that is prevalent on UCR’s campus and in the surrounding community, assist students in finding the appropriate resources for their needs and to create a community of students who want to help fight against poverty and inequality.

SACEPI is a UC-wide organization whose goal is to combat poverty and inequality through advocacy, research and outreach. The UCR chapter, specifically is looking to create innovative programs that empower disadvantaged members of the community by expanding their reach and influence. In the future, they hope to develop a program to bridge the gap between residents of the Coachella Valley with existing resources.

OverFlow, a UCR organization, focuses on serving their university community and the surrounding city. Their organization collects donations of nonperishable food, personal items and clothing. Each month, these donations are then taken to local homeless shelters around Riverside.

At their booth, the organizations had collected items such as soap, shampoo and conditioner through donations, which they allowed students to put together in donation sacks. Students could then visit the booth and write a message on a bag that would later be donated to someone in need. Mirella Deniz-Zaragoza, the student leader of SACEPI, hoped that by “making packages it would spread awareness by empowering our diverse student body community to collaborate, take action, and brainstorm potential ideas to help our community members in need.”

Wednesday’s event was part of a UC-wide day of action dedicated to teaching students about poverty that faces their communities. All of the UC campuses participated in Global Poverty Action Day, hosting events such as a panel conversation describing theory vs. reality in responsible production and consumption and a film screening of “Poverty, Inc.”

Justine Ross, programmatic and communications support for the UCR Blum Initiative, a program that seeks to address poverty in Southern California, helped organize the event. She hoped that the event would make the community aware of the fact that “62 percent of UCR students grapple with food insecurity and there should not be a stigma associated with using resources when you’re in need.”

There are a number of resources on the UCR campus to help students in need. Some campus resources include the R’Pantry, where students can select food and personal care items to take home and the R’Garden, where students are given a plot of land to grow nutritious foods. There is a more detailed list of where students can go when they are in need, located on the dean of students website.  

The next event regarding the combat against poverty and inequality will be a day-long conference held on Friday, May 5 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in Humanities 1500. The event will be hosted by the Blum Initiative and will be discussing immigration and poverty.