Since 2016, the UC Santa Barbara Health & Wellness committee has been organizing programs and events to educate students about nutrition and cooking. Not only does the organization focus on cooking education, but they also work with local organizations, such as the Associated Students (A.S.) Food Bank, to provide cost-free meals and ingredients to students. In an effort to provide easily accessible, prepared meals for students on campus, Health & Wellness has been running multiple programs such as Wellness Soup Wednesdays, Wellness Rice and Beans, Monday Morning Oats and International Tea Time. These programs typically start as pilot programs, and while Monday Morning Oats will no longer be running, Wellness Rice and Beans will be expanded this quarter to provide more pre-made bowls at times beyond the few that were previously offered, increasing availability of this resource to students. Not only does this program aim to give students grab-and-go meals that are more substantial than snacks, but it will also educate students about potential recipes they could implement using the rice and beans often provided at the A.S. Food Bank. Wellness Soup Wednesday is a partnership between Health & Wellness and the Organic Soup Company. International Tea Time is aimed at connecting international students over a relaxing ritual.

Anya Yu-Swanson (left) and Adrianna (right) enjoy warm bowls of oatmeal at the SRB. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

With a variety of toppings available, students could customize their oatmeal to their taste. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

According to Mallory Russell, the Health & Wellness health education generalist, the Health & Wellness programs have ambitious goals for the future. A big dream of the programs is to establish a permanent space for a kitchen in which cooking education programs can be consistently hosted. Health & Wellness would also be eager to get other groups involved in this potential cooking space and allow organizations to also host classes and workshops.

Lily Poehler presents her beautiful oats topped with raisins and nuts. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

Two students enjoying International Tea hosted by Health and Wellness. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

Another goal for the Health & Wellness nutrition programs is to provide more encouraging conversation around cultural foods. Whether it’s ingredient accessibility, lack of representation of cultural foods in the dining halls or encouraging students to try new recipes and dishes, Health & Wellness hopes to promote more culturally rich and diverse meals at UCSB. By gathering information on what cultural foods students would like to see, Health & Wellness is able to host educational workshops and offer resources for where to find multicultural pantry staples.

*See the Exploring the Asian Landscape article*

The rice and beans program is set to expand over spring quarter to offer more pre-packaged bowls at longer working hours. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

Abigail Escobar (left) and Maudine Matos (right) pose with their rice bowls. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

A helper assembles the Brazilian Feijoada bowls of rice and beans. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

Students gather to get free bowls of prepared rice and beans from UCSB’s Health and Wellness nutrition program. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)

Students could choose between two types of rice and beans bowls, and add customizable toppings. (Daily Nexus / Nina Timofeyeva)