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Campus Successes – Fresno State

Growing Healthy Habits, Food, and Partnerships Through CalFresh Healthy Living

California State University, Fresno has a student population of approximately 24,000, and of those, an estimated 16,416 are SNAP-Ed eligible (qualifying by income). Student food insecurity is estimated to be 43.7 percent. The Student Cupboard, which is the campuses free food pantry for students, sees an average of 4,171 student visits each month. In 2016-17, prior to the pandemic, the Student Cupboard saw just over 51,000 visitors. At the Student Cupboard, fresh produce is readily available to students, but is often gone quickly. The campus was always looking for ways to create more sustainable resources to support food security as well as provide healthy food access to students.

Prior to the start of the CFHL grant on campus, a faculty member, Christina Macias looked at the function of gardens and outdoor learning in teacher education for her master’s thesis. Along the way, Macias recognized different spaces had different mission statements; several that were focused on sustainable or healthy living through communities, campuses and universities. After learning of the high food insecurity rate on the Fresno State campus, a partnership for the garden was created with the Food Security Program and Student Cupboard to learn more about the campus need and how a community garden could support that need. Macias proposed a large-scale garden on campus with a request for land, that would support food security for students, nutrition education, teacher education and a sense of community. This garden would be named the SECREd Garden (Steam Experiences, Community, Research, and Education).

“The Student Cupboard assisted in the further development of the SECREd Garden, a valuable future resource to Fresno State students and their need for healthy and nutritious foods.”

– Arsh Gill

With the CFHL grant, many partnerships were built to integrate healthy eating, food security, and teacher education. Partnerships included: the Food Security Project and Student Cupboard, Campus Planning, Kremen School of Education, development and fundraising, facilities, community organizations, school districts, horticulture/nursery, ASI (student government), and many more.

Through the partnership with the Student Cupboard, CFHL and CalFresh outreach, workshops and tabling events took place on campus to discuss food security resources and teach students how to grow their own garden. This practical connection to students needs and their ability to grow their own food brought many students to the events, causing them to run out of supplies. Students returned for future workshops and events to learn more and obtain more resources to grow their own gardens.

“Community education around growing your own food changed shape of the garden to now be accessible to students to address food insecurity needs on campus.”

-Christina Macias
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Campus Successes – Fresno State

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