Valley Focus: Fresno State March Match Up Helps Students Access Food

Keeping the Student Cupboard full at Fresno State takes a team effort. According to Fresno State, more than 43 percent of its students are experiencing some type of food insecurity.

They may not always know when they'll get their next meal. You can help by participating in the March Match Up.

Jessica Medina, the coordinator of the Food Security Project, and David Hembree, director of Development and Student Affairs at Fresno State were guests on Valley Focus. They talked with host Margot Kim about the issue of food insecurity and how you can help students. Watch the video from the Sunday, March 18th segment of Valley Focus here.

The following is a transcript of their conversation:

Margot: Jessica, let's first talk about the issue of food insecurity.And why is it present on our college campuses?
Jessica: You know, I think our students are always trying to focus on their basic needs, and it's hard to meet those basic needs when you might not be knowing what's going on, as far as where you're going to get your next meal from, maybe not
knowing about hygiene items and things like that, and still trying to focus on tests. And, so, at our campus, what we're trying to do is meet those students basic needs. We want to be able to provide that food and hygiene items and all of those things to be able
to support that so that they can be successful, academically.
Margot: Is there an often misconception of students who can afford to go to college -- why can't they certainly afford to meet their basic needs?
Jessica: Oh, absolutely. We have a very large percent of our students who are on financial aid, and that financial aid covers, basically, just their cost of going to classes. Beyond that, they still need to eat.
They still need a place to live.They still need to be able to buy those textbooks and everything else. And so we want to be able to support them through those basic needs so that they don't have to worry about that.
Margot: And, David, I think we all can understand the irony of living in the valley and this bountiful area of agriculture. And we supply the world with its food. And, yet, there is this food insecurity among our young
David: It's true. And many of our partners are able to provide us produce directly from our local area. So we often get very excited about a couple of crates of produce that we're able to disseminate to the students
through the Cupboard. So, we have community partners that are agriculture, but also our friends at the Community Food Bank and Poverello House, Catholic Charities. They all partner with us to provide food for the students.
Margot: And, Jessica, talk about that challenge to keep those shelves stocked. It is a constant need.
Jessica: It is a constant need, and we definitely -- Our budget is around $100,000 a year, which is what we're trying to raise with our March Match Up campaign right now.

Margot: And how is that -- What is that campaign? It's a chance for the community to get involved, right, David?
David: It is. It's also totally -- The Cupboard is totally funded by donations now, and so, every year, our challenge is to go out and fund that budget for donations. But this community supports that, and they've been champs
for the last two years. We've raised -- We're nearing $300,000 to fund the Cupboard for two years of going out and fundraising in the community.
Margot: Yeah. And speaking of community involvement, there's a challenge right now -- right? --to match dollar for dollar with the public's donation.

Jessica: So, we are in the midst of our March Match Up campaign right now. We are very fortunate to have our partners at Moss Adams LLP, who are giving us up to $25,000. They will match dollar for dollar.
That will go towards our $100,000 goal. And, so, we are nearing our halfway mark right now. And we're very excited. We have a ways to go, but we're looking to get some extra donations to come in to help us
reach that goal to be able to feed our students.
Margot: And how can people in the
community get involved?
Jessica: We want our community members to go online to our website,, and make that donation. Any donation, no matter how large, how small, makes a difference for our students.
And we really appreciate everything that comes through.
Margot: And, David, we know there is a valley-wide full of alumni from Fresno State.

David: Absolutely.
Margot: And they may not realize that there is this need on campus with this current student body.

David: That's true. And we would love to see our alumni get engaged. Many of the folks that are engaged as our partners and donors are alums and local alums that have been successful.
One of the phrases that the folks from Moss Adams use --they want to give back because they really appreciate their experience at Fresno State.
Margot: It's a way to give back.
David: Absolutely.
Margot: And, Jessica, any student can walk into the Student Cupboard and fulfill their needs if they're coming up short with food on the table or hygiene items that they may need?
Jessica: That's correct. We wanted to make this very easy for our students. We know that, often, visiting a food pantry can be a very difficult thing for students or anyone to do.
And, so, we are open to all currently enrolled Fresno State students, and we want them to know that they can come in as often as they need to, up to once per day, to be able to
receive food to be able to stock their cupboards.
Margot: 'Cause the last thing you want to worry about is what you're gonna eat -- right? -- as you're cramming for those exams.
Jessica: Exactly.
We want our students to be successful in the classroom, outside of the classroom, and having to worry about where their next meal is going to come from is not something they should have to worry about.
>> And it's so easy to donate and know that there is a match, dollar for dollar.

Donate To Fresno State Student Cupboard March Match Up
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