Happy Thursday! On today’s menu:

Cultivating a healthy lifestyle…A food, nutrition and basic skills program for students at UCSB is aimed at increasing food security. The University of California Santa Barbara is piloting a program that the campus hopes will improve nutrition, develop life skills and increase food security among its students. Multiple weekly workshops are teaching students how to cook, shop on a budget, manage debt, stay healthy and even navigate the campus food service. And there’s more…”Additional classes cover everything from recipe planning and tenants’ rights to seasonal cooking and cutting food costs through bulk purchases.”

The program was created by UCSB’s Food Security Working Group (which did impressive work hosting the inaugural California Higher Education Food Summit in 2015). Their work is part of the UC Global Food Initiative, which seeks to harness the university’s resources to address one of the most pressing issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population. The UC GFI provided a $75,000 grant to each UC campus to tackle food security and create food security plans.

John Lazarus, the assistant director of the University Center’s food operation, said this:

“Food insecurity is a real and growing problem and the only way we are going to be able to reduce that is to work together…This will involve financial aid, residential dining, retail dining, academic divisions, student life — really the entire community.”

A marvelous pilot program…looking forward to learning more about the results. Shelly Leachman reports for UCSB’s Current. #gauchos #GlobalFood

Hunger among college students. There are many reasons the UC Food Observer is excited about UCSB’s pilot program. One reason is that it may increase food security among college students, many of whom are struggling to manage the high cost of college. What (too) often happens is that students forgo meals. Nationally, we’re seeing increased rates of hunger among college students. I previously shared information about research conducted by Sara Goldrick-Rab (professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Katharine M. Broton (ABD, University of Wisconsin, Madison). They co-authored an important piece for the New York Times about food insecurity among our nation’s college students. ICYMI, this dynamic duo also wrote an informative piece for The Conversation US (that publication’s tagline is “Academic rigor, journalistic flair”). It provides an excellent overview of college students and hunger…and offers some solutions. Absolutely worth a read.


Wal-Mart closures creating food deserts. Wal-Mart – the world’s largest retailer – recently announced it would close 154 stores. According to an Associated Press analysis, these closures will create “food deserts” in some neighborhoods. Reporting by Mike Schneider and Phillip Lucas; this piece appears in the New York Times. To learn more about “food environment factors” – including the proximity of stores and restaurants, food prices, food/nutrition assistance programs, etc. – visit the USDA’s Economic Research Service Food Environment Atlas.


Up for tomorrow: check out our interview with Elliott Campbell, a UC Merced researcher. He shares insights about local food, sustainability and more…


Closing note: the gift of fresh fruit…and friendship. The UC Food Observer had breakfast today with a great group of people. We talked about the importance of agricultural education and what we can do to promote it. One of those at the table was Chris Sayer, a Ventura County farmer who produces a variety of crops on land his family has farmed since the 1870s. He gifted each of us with a bag of tango tangerines. This is about as local as one can get. Check out the picture above. Chris reminded me that these are a UC variety. They are/were delicious!!! Thanks, Chris!

(We should thank farmers every day).


Have a great day!