It’s fulfilling a need addressed by Dr. Rashida Crutchfield, assistant professor in California State University, Long Beach’s Social Work Department — the Student Emergency Intervention Program at the school.
Crutchfield was commissioned by the CSU chancellor’s office to study students’ needs for food and housing system-wide. A conference on the issue will be next Monday, June 20, and Tuesday, June 21.
“We’re really excited,” Dr. Jeff Klaus, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said. “Rashida (Crutchfield) believes we have the most comprehensive program (in the CSU).”
Klaus heads emergency program, which offers emergency grants, meals assistance program and short-term housing for students in need. The program launched spring semester 2015 after more than a year of discussion. Crutchfield conducted preliminary studies and continues in her work, through commissioning from the CSU chancellor’s office.
“There are some that have an exceptional food pantry,” Carol Menard, assistant dean of students and emergency program manager, said. “We actually have this comprehensive program.”
CSULB’s program receives money from several sources, including the IDeclare campaign, the president’s office, 49er Stores, the associated student body and the student excellence grant, Klaus said. Collectively, it has about $400,000, he said, and keeps growing.
One of the growth areas is the expansion of the food pantry, which is now about a 2-by-2 foot area of the campus’s interfaith center. By this fall, the pantry will be about 12 feet by 12 feet in the Soroptimist House, Klaus said, although he isn’t sure of either dimension.
“The fact they’re going to order multiple racks for food is great,” Klaus said. “It’s increasing by five-fold at least.”
Another addition this fall will be helping students access CalFresh, Klaus said. CSULB received a $100,000 grant to be a subcontractor for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for two years, he said. In addition to not knowing they are eligible for the program, students often feel intimidated by the paperwork, he said. For that, he said they’d receive help.
Speaking of food, Klaus said they plan to launch a mobile application called Beach Bites this fall or sooner, which will alert students if a campus event has leftover food. The app will give a time and place, he said, to get the food.
“We’re making sure the food doesn’t go to waste,” Klaus said.
Another new item Klaus said they already have implemented are hotel vouchers for students who can’t stay in the dormitories because they have children. Youngsters aren’t permitted there, he said.
Besides food, the program has assisted nine students with jobs, Klaus said, including two in the program.
Klaus said they’ve learned from the program, having students check in regularly by giving out fewer meals at a time on their student identification card. The card is used as a type of debit card, programmed with what the student needs, Klaus said, which helps keep student confidentiality.
“As the program goes on, we’re able to check in with the student,” Klaus said. “See if they’re following up on things they need. That’s an important part of the process for us… And, that student is treated just like any other student.”
For more information on the emergency program, visit web.csulb.edu/divisions/students/studentdean/emergency_grant.
Emily Thornton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.