Student Care Team members at the cabinet in the Tyler Campus Center, and the food cabinet located in the Thornton Administration Center. Photo courtesy of Stacy Rothberg and the Pepperdine Student Care Team
The Food Insecurity Committee created four food cabinets across campus to combat food insecurities among students. The cabinets are called the Waves Food Cabinets. The cabinets contain non-perishable items for students to take for meals and snacks.
A fair amount of students at Pepperdine experience food insecurity, according to a survey conducted by Student Affairs. Food insecurity is the lessened availability of food and the decreased accessibility of food to a student. The food cabinets came into place over the summer with the goal of making progress against students struggling with food security.
“I myself did not know, until I started with more students and meeting with them, that food insecurity existed at Pepperdine,” Stacey Lee, health wellness resilience education program coordinator, said.
Lee serves on the Food Insecurity Committee, along with Stacy Rothberg, associate dean of student affairs for commuters.
The rest of the team is made up of members from Student Affairs, Business Services, and Dining Services; faculty members Steve Bauer and Loan Kim; and students representing Food Recovery Network and Swipe Out Hunger.
“Students will start telling you stories of people eating off the rotator in the cafe where you put your dishes away when you are done,” Lee said.
The food pantry on the 4th floor of the TAC. Photo by Emily Morton.
The food is split up between four cabinets across campus. One inside the Student Affairs office, one on the president’s floor of the Thornton Administration Center (TAC), in the Counseling Center at the SAC and in the School of Public Policy on the graduate campus. The team toured other universities in California and chose to use cabinets instead of pantries because it allows professors to have their own cabinets in their offices.
“Sodexo donated $700 worth of food to us,” Rothberg said.
The cabinets contain pasta, pasta sauce, milk, granola bars, rice and fruit snacks. All the food is packaged and sealed.
The cabinets also include a variety of options including vegan and gluten-free. Choices such as almond milk and gluten-free pasta quickly eliminate the problem of students dietary needs conflicting with finding a source of food.
At the TAC location, Jody Semerau, associate provost of academic finance, has a sign up for students who want to have a hot meal. Administrators can sign up as well to host students.
“We like to keep it pretty anonymous,” said Semerau. “Whoever needs it, and whoever needs support, then they can have it whenever they like it.”
“[The goal of the hot meal is] to have someone in the administration say we care,” Semerau said. “We want to help, and it might be a desperate time for them.”
The Waves Food Cabinet is one of the initiatives being taken to combat food struggles.
“Last year we were really grateful that dining services had offered 150 dining services guest meal cards,” Rothberg said.
Rothberg added that the dining guest meal cards supplied by Sodexo carried $13 a piece, which roughly equates to one meal in the Waves Cafe.
Pepperdine also has a Student Care Team. They allocate more resources to students struggling to find meals on campus. They have an emergency fund for immediate student troubles, such as missing a meal between paychecks or struggling with food for a period of time. The care team also has a fund specifically for the Waves Food Cabinet.
Right now the Student Care Team is focused on finding out which items are most popular for students, and which items run out fastest. That way, the team can focus more of the budget on foods that students will seek out.
In the future, the team is looking to grow the food support on campus. Lee wants to provide fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables. One of the main goals down the line is to offer students healthy yet sustainable choices, Lee said.
Pepperdine has farmer’s markets in Mullin Town Square (separate from the Food Insecurity Committee) that allows students to buy fresh produce right on campus.
Rothberg said she is hoping to set up a texting platform. This would allow students who need food to be able to hear announcements about extra food from games, conferences and other social events around campus. That way, food doesn’t go to waste, and students struggling will be able to grab a meal or snack.
Email Emily Morton: firstname.lastname@example.org