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Creating a Safety Net for Students

WWhile students may face obstacles on their path to a college degree, lacking food or shelter shouldn't be one of them. It is this belief that spurred Cal State Fullerton's Division of Student Affairs to launch a Food and Housing Security Task Force to address the issues on campus.

In its first year, the task force initiated several projects, including a temporary housing assistance program, a donated meals campaign, a campuswide hygiene drive, an online notification system that informs students where to find free or donated food on campus, and a career closet to provide professional attire for students in need.

"Providing basic needs support, particularly in the form of housing and food, reduces distress that tax students' coping skills and could seriously derail them from achieving their dreams," said Carmen Curiel, associate dean of students.

Aramark and Campus Dining Services have joined the University's efforts, donating meals and allowances for food at the Gastronome and other campus eateries. Individual donors also stepped up, making gifts to a new Student Assistance Fund for Emergencies (SAFE). The fund supports students facing personal emergencies or catastrophes, as well as the development of sustainable programs that address barriers to graduation.

In 2016, the California State University Chancellor's Office reported that approximately 21 to 24 percent of students across its 23 campuses lack regular access to food, and 8 to 12 percent lack stable housing.

"We are actively putting in place support services that identify and immediately serve some of CSUF's most at-risk students, which include our displaced students, food-insecure students and students experiencing an emergency situation or crisis," said Tonantzin Oseguera, associate vice president for student affairs.

"We recognize that every student's situation is unique, and we are committed to examining some of those root causes, as well as providing stopgap resources to get them through each semester," she added. "Together with our campus partners and donors, we can provide effective services for our most vulnerable students."

To make a gift to SAFE, contact Cris Powell, director of development for the College of Education and the Division of Student Affairs, at 657-278-2917 or cpowell@fullerton.edu.