Isla Vista Community Resources Committee (IVCRC) and the Associated Students Food Bank hosted the first-ever Isla Vista Resource Fair to distribute food to I.V. residents and exhibit local resources at the A.S. Pardall Center Saturday.
Various student organizations and local agencies such as the I.V. Food Co-Op, CalFresh, Environmental Affairs Board, I.V. Tenants Union (IVTU), Life of the Party, Adopt-A-Block and Community Affairs Board (CAB) tabled outside in the Pardall Center parking lot. The A.S. Food Bank distributed free food to students and families inside the Pardall Center.
According to IVCRC Internal Chair and third-year psychology and sociology double major Tai Kang, IVCRC wanted the I.V. Resource Fair to be a space for groups to come together to familiarize students and families with their services.
“We’re just trying to educate everyone,” Kang said. “Our work doesn’t mainly focus on students — we represent everyone in I.V.”
It’s about allowing people to know where they can shop on a budget, where they can get free food, how they can cook healthy and how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
– IVCRC External Chair Aimee Hanna
Kang said the resource fair is an attempt to eliminate the negative stigma associated with seeking help from resources such as the A.S. Food Bank and CalFresh.
“People don’t always use the Food Bank, but they should because it comes out of your student fees. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using it,” Kang said. “We’re trying to ‘de-stigmatize’ that negative idea people have about the Food Bank or applying to CalFresh or things like that.”
IVCRC External Chair and third-year art and sociology double major Aimee Hanna said inspiration for the Resource Fair comes from IVCRC’s goal this year to ensure I.V. residents have access to healthy food.
“Our mission this year is really focusing on food sustainability and food justice,” Hanna said. “It’s about allowing people to know where they can shop on a budget, where they can get free food, how they can cook healthy and how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
A.S. Food Bank Coordinator Tuyen Nguyen said her organization provided food at the resource fair to encourage residents to interact with the organizations and benefit from the services offered.
“It’s a way to think about the distribution of food without this idea of just handing out food,” Nguyen said. “The way that we’re doing it helps gets folks interacting with activities and resources. This is essential to help getting people engaged, and by extension, they’ll get food out of it.”
Nguyen said she hopes this first-ever I.V. Resource Fair will encourage organizations to work together to create solutions to address I.V.’s food security problems.
“It’s a start to getting together organizations who might or might not have ever worked with each other,” Nguyen said. “Maybe we can have organic conversation with each other about potential solutions.”
Hanna said IVCRC is currently deciding whether to host the I.V. Resource Fair bimonthly or quarterly. According to Hanna, IVCRC may also host future resource fairs in other locations such as on one of the university’s family housing sites or at Isla Vista Elementary School.
“We want to make it bigger and we want to expand it out,” Hanna said. “We want to go to different spots in Isla Vista instead of this.”
CAB’s Houseless and Hungry branch coordinator and second-year psychology major Junior Anguiano said the I.V. Resource Fair is an ideal opportunity for organizations to present their services to students and families.
“I think this is a really good opportunity for any org, not just CAB, to get some exposure,” Anguiano said. “But it’s more so to show that resources are available, not necessarily for an org exposure.”
Third-year global studies major Emily Chang said she did not see an event page on Facebook for the fair and the I.V. Resources Fair could have advertised more effectively.
“I didn’t really know about it,” Chang said. “Maybe that’s why there isn’t as many people here.”
Third-year linguistics major Kristen Villamor said the I.V. Resource Fair informed her of local organizations available to assist I.V. residents.
“It’s really nice to know that there are resources out here that cater to our community, especially students,” Villamor said.
Third-year environmental studies major Theresa Do said she was glad she attended the fair because IVTU informed her of the A.S. Legal Resource Center on the second floor of the Pardall Center.
“It was helpful to know we have legal representation upstairs,” Do said. “I didn’t know that before.”