One of the new Waves Food Cabinet provides a variety of nonperishable meals to students at the ICA student lounge in the HAWC on Oct. 5. ICA partnered with Pepperdine’s Student Care Team to create this cabinet for students. Photos by Tanya Yarian
Editor’s Note: To protect the privacy of a source, the Graphic has used the name J. Doe.
Pepperdine’s Student Care Team is offering Waves Food Cabinets to support students who have challenges accessing food, SCT Chair La Shonda Coleman wrote in a Sept. 28 email to the Graphic.
In the food cabinets, students can expect nonperishable meals and grab-and-go items such as cereal, soup and single-serve meals, Coleman wrote. Some cabinets have larger items such as boxes of pasta, sauce and canned goods. All cabinets offer vegan, gluten-free and nut-free options.
Students can find these cabinets at the Tyler Campus Center, TCC 282; the Student Assistance Center on the Counseling Center side; Thornton Administrative Center, TAC 119; the ICA Student Lounge, HAWC 130; the Duane and Lucile Faw Student Lounge inside the DiLerto Dining Room, Caruso Law School Cafe; the School of Public Policy, Building 54.
Intercultural Affairs Director Rebecca Campos said she hopes students who are worried about their next meal will learn about this opportunity and feel ICA and SCT’s support.
“It is hard to do anything if you’re not sure where your [next] meal is coming from,” Campos said. “It’s hard to focus on a midterm. It’s hard to focus on a paper. So ICA with the help of SCT and their food pantry initiative, is trying to play a small role in alleviating that concern.”
Food insecurity is a lack of regular access to safe and nutritious food due to unavailability of resources, according to the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The SCT manages the food cabinets and professional staff volunteers maintain the cabinets, Coleman wrote.
Ramen is offered at the food cabinet in the ICA Student Lounge which is open 24/7. These cabinets were established to support students who have challenges accessing food, wrote SCT Chair La Shonda Coleman in a Sept. 28 email to the Graphic.
Campos said Britney Summerville-Brannan, senior case manager at SCT, and the rest of the team are trying to prioritize healthy options but cannot add perishable foods because the cabinets do not have a fridge.
Pepperdine junior J. Doe utilizes the food cabinets throughout the week and gets what they are most likely to eat. They said they have one of the lowest meal plans, Waves 1285, and had to ration their meals before learning about the cabinets.
“It’s more convenient and I don’t have to worry about looking at my account, seeing numbers drop and trying to make the math to see if it’ll last me until the end of the semester,” Doe said.
Stacy Rothberg Montgomery — former associate dean of Student Affairs — led the initiative of establishing the first four food cabinets on Pepperdine’s campus in 2019, Coleman wrote. Montgomery partnered with The Food Insecurity Committee, SCT, student leaders, professional staff and Jazmine Zane — senior director of institutional research.
Pepperdine’s Student Affairs and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness organized the Food Access and Resources Project which collected information on access and affordability with food among Pepperdine students, according to Pepperdine’s website.
“Programs such as the FARE Project are in alignment with our faith mission and institutional values, and they demonstrate love and care for our students’ well-being in all areas of their lives, beyond the academic,” Zane wrote in an Oct. 7 email to the Graphic.
Zane wrote supporting this project was important and she has experience in nonprofit health research.
“From a departmental/OIE lens, this was a critical opportunity to foster student success and center students who have been impacted by systemic inequities,” Zane wrote.
This year, the SCT opened two new Waves Food Cabinets in addition to the other four — one at the ICA Student Lounge in the HAWC and one at the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Student Lounge.
Campos said ICA only controls the food cabinet at the HAWC. Along with nonperishable food items, the HAWC food cabinet also includes feminine hygiene products. ICA’s food cabinet is open 24/7, and students who wish to use it do not need to check-in with anyone at the front desk or the SCT, Campos said.
“It’s something that the price of those can be burdensome, and we wanted to really relieve the burden of items that are necessary for day-to-day living,” Campos said.
Campos said someone from Pepperdine’s Feminist Club asked a staff member at ICA if they would have feminine hygiene products as well, and Campos said this was ICA’s way of supporting students and taking part of that initiative.
Some universities in other states utilize similar food programs to help students with food insecurity and other support by providing some basic need items, according to U.S. News and World Report. The University of North Carolina Asheville organizes a food distribution event where students can receive nonperishable foods, and Saint Xavier University provides a food pantry on campus with nonperishable foods, toiletries and feminine hygiene products.
Leaders of ICA said they hope to provide some culturally familiar foods for some international students in the future, Campos said. Campos, who is Jamaican, said she came to Pepperdine as an international student in 2012 for her Master’s Degree of Public Administration, Economics and International Affairs. She said she and Sharon Wakio, assistant director for international students at ICA, are excited to provide this for students soon.
“You already feel so homesick and to be able to have food that you grew up with can be such a comfort,” Campos said.
Pepperdine’s Resilience Informed-Student Education team created an Instagram Post to inform students about the food cabinets. Campos said ICA has not done much to advertise this resource yet because they only established the cabinet a few weeks ago. Campos and ICA plan to add this initiative in their bi-monthly newsletter.
Pepperdine’s RISE team’s Instagram post highlighting the food cabinets Sept. 15. The food cabinets were established to support students who face food insecurity. Photo courtesy of RISE Instagram
Students can learn more about support programs such as WIC and CalFresh at the food cabinets and over half of the food at the cabinets are CalFresh eligible, Coleman wrote.
“I’m sure that there are students who have it way harsher than me and that doesn’t know about the resources,” Doe said. “So I think it’s important for students who are struggling in that aspect.”
While the SCT does not accept food donations for the cabinets, people can contribute financially to the Food Insecurity Fund which permits the SCT to purchase food items for the cabinets, Coleman wrote in an Oct. 24 email. If students are interested in volunteering to help stock the food cabinets, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coleman wrote to reach out to the SCT at email@example.com or (310) 506-6321, if students have further hardship and wish to connect with a case manager.
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Contact Tanya Yarian via Twitter: @tanya_yarian or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org