The Associated Students Food Bank will now open its doors on Fridays, expanding its weekly service from three to four days a week beginning Oct. 12 of this year.
The Associated Students (A.S.) Food Bank experienced dramatic growth at the beginning of Fall Quarter 2018, which was a factor in the group’s decision to expand its service, according to A.S. Food Bank Student Coordinator Daniel Yi.
“The past couple weeks we’ve been easily reaching 500 to 600 new [visitors] per day. That kind of figure is a record figure compared to last year,” Yi said. “That was the peak we were hitting last year. And the first few weeks of this quarter, we’re already at that peak.”
The record increase in clients has been challenging for the Food Bank, according to Yi.
“I have to find the balance between supplying enough food to all our clients but also work[ing] within the limitations of the actual space we have,” Yi said.
“I think opening a new day and getting more supply pickups should help smooth things out and satisfy our clients’ needs.”
The Food Bank was also able to hire more employees to make the expanded hours possible.
“I currently have 11 active student staff members on my schedule to maintain the pantry and move all of the food –– a handful have been hired in the recent summer and spring quarters, and others have been around for longer,” he said.
Yi said the location of the Food Bank has historically made it difficult for students to be aware of its existence and informed on its purpose.
“We’re tucked away on the third floor of the UCen, so people might just not know about the food resources available to them at this campus.”
Outreach by the Food Bank and its partners could be a factor in its recent growth, according to Yi.
“I guess over the last year, our Food Bank committee and a lot of our partners have been doing a really good job of promoting the Food Bank and promoting our resources,” Yi said.
Yi said the Food Bank has been using social media to market new developments and products.
“We’ve been promoting a lot of the exciting items we’re receiving at the Food Bank, as well as special events with our partners. I think some of our developments, like our previous space expansion, new refrigerators and microwaves have also generated quite a bit of buzz for us.”
The Food Bank is funded by a combination of grants and a lock-in student fee, according to Yi. Within student fees, undergraduate students pay five dollars and graduate students pay three dollars at the beginning of each quarter.
“We have received grants from TGIF and Global Food Initiative in order to pay for our refrigerators and van,” Food Bank Coordinator Rodolfo Herrera said. “A.S. Finance and Business has also passed for other capital investments in our space.”
The Santa Barbara County Food Bank supplies most of the food to the A.S. Food Bank, Herrera said.
A.S. Food Bank’s status as a non-profit allows the organization to receive special prices for assorted dry goods, low prices such as six cents per pound of bread and free produce.
The Food Bank was seeing roughly 5,000 pounds of food moving in and out before opening on Fridays. With the new hours, this has increased.
“With Friday open, we are now picking up food five days a week, which should bring us up to around 7,500 to 8,000 pounds per week,” Yi said.
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that the A.S. Food Bank does not charge students for food, but receives their goods from the Santa Barbara County Food Bank at a discounted price, and to clarify the number of visitors they receive a day. The price of the bread has also been corrected.