Supporting Student Success: Touro Addresses Food Insecurity with New Food Pantry

TUC helps students struggling with food insecurity by opening Jim’s Pantry, a campus provisions distribution center.

November 20, 2023
Dr. James Binkerd, Trinity Dominguez, Paisley Rosengren
(left to right: Dr. James Binkerd, Trinity Dominguez, Paisley Rosengren)

In 2018, Touro University California (TUC) Paisley Rosengren, Director of Student Success began noticing that many students would come by the Student Affairs office and take large handfuls of snacks they set out. Rosengren became concerned that the behavior was indicative of food insecurity. 

She and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Dr. James Binkerd, for whom the pantry is named for, conducted student surveys and concluded that food insecurity was indeed an issue at TUC. Using the data collected they created a proposal for a campus pantry.

The Jim’s Pantry officially opened its doors on September 18, 2023—after a three-year pandemic delay and Dr. Binkerd’s retirement—stocked with non-perishable food and select personal hygiene items. All the goods on display are free, and the only thing that students need to do is fill out a short survey to help Rosengren better serve the needs of the student body.

While it’s rarely discussed, food insecurity is present in colleges and universities. Studies show that not having enough food greatly affects concentration, to the point that food insecure students see a 42% drop in their chances of graduating.

“I was fortunate enough to have TUC included on a grant funded by Genentech with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano,” says Rosengren. “Then COVID happened, and we wondered if we would still be able to do the food distributions.”

Utilizing strategies provided by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Rosengren and the Student Affairs team were able to set up a stop-gap monthly no-contact fresh produce drive-up distribution. It was phase one of the project that continues to provide food to anyone who needs it. Jim’s Pantry literally offers food for thought.

 

Jim’s Pantry, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am-1pm

TUC drive-up fresh produce distribution, 3rd Wednesday of the month, noon