Hungry? Project rolling out meal vouchers

Fresno State public relations senior Sean Stancill (left) swipes I.D. card to allow students to eat at the Residence Dining Hall on March. 28, 2017 (Christian Ortuno/The Collegian)

Several departments at Fresno State now make sure students in a pinch can get a free meal.

“The Food Security Project works with departments on campus who may come in contact with food insecure students to provide training, resources and certificates [to students],” said Jessica Medina, coordinator of the Food Security Project.

How it works: If a faculty or staff members come into contact with a student who cannot afford to eat, they can give a voucher that students can redeem for a free meal.

“If they say something happened, where they say, ‘I haven’t had anything to eat today or since yesterday,’ we can say, ‘Hey, while we connect you with the services, why don’t you go get a meal? Get fed and then you can come back, and we can help you,’” said Stephanie Annett, the dietitian at the Fresno State Student Health Center.

She said she has come across cases where students had been unexpectedly ousted from where they were living, or they had an unexpected expense that left them without money for food.

“We want to help students succeed if they have these barriers. It’s really focused on student success,” Annett said. “I remember there were classmates of mine who were food insecure or displaced from their housing, and there was just nothing. They just tried as best they could. I remember bringing sandwiches for my lab partner in chemistry so he didn’t faint.”

Mazie Moua, the SupportNet coordinator at the Learning Center, has also witnessed students in need.

“We have had several stories of students who may have not had a meal in a day or students who are living out of their car,” Moua said. “The meal vouchers have been able to provide these students with a warm meal.”

The Learning Center has participated in this initiative for at least two years.

Other participating departments are Student Success Services, Army ROTC, Career Development and the Student Cupboard.

Jessica Medina, coordinator for the Food Security Project, said students have other services available to them, including the Student Cupboard and the Good Samaritan Fund.

“The Good Samaritan Fund was created to assist Fresno State students who encounter an unforeseen financial emergency,” Medina said.

Students can apply at the Health Center.

The Student Cupboard provides free food and hygiene products for students, as well.

If students are in need of any of these services, they should contact Medina at 559-278-0866.

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