CLU’s Community Cupboard needs more advertising to better reach students

Ysabella Gonzalez, Reporter

The Community Cupboard at California Lutheran University is one of the several ways on campus to get free food, and more people should know about it. In fact, even as a third year student, I only learned about the Community Cupboard a few days ago.

According to University Pastor Rev. Mark Holmerud, the cupboard is a place in the Chapel where students can come in and take whatever food they may need. No paperwork, no proof and no interactions needed.

Holmerud helps run the Community Cupboard. He assists in managing donations and the budget they use to buy in bulk from Amazon.

“We just trust that people, when they have a need, they’ll come in and be able to take advantage of this,” Holmerud said. 

Using the cupboard isn’t the problem though, finding it is. When you enter the Chapel, you need to make a left towards the offices, as you approach make a right down the hallway and go all the way down until you come across a small kitchen with several doors. Then you keep walking straight, open the door and on the far left corner you will find the Community Cupboard. 

Holmerud said it was only so far away and hidden to offer the students that come by more privacy. It’s a way for them to not feel embarrassed that they need to take some food. To me, it just feels like a big secret or a walk of shame as many have to cross campus to get to it.

The one who spends the most time overseeing the cupboard is Pravalika Gurram, a student coordinator in Campus Ministry. She makes sure the cupboard is stocked, helps handle donations and keeps an eye on the expiration dates.

“It is such a good initiative and I am happy to serve for that,” Gurram said.

Both Holmerud and Gurram said that they want more attention to be brought to the program, but it has been a secret for so many students, one of which was me.

Over my time here at this university, there have been several instances where I couldn’t prepare a meal for myself. As a commuter that can’t afford a meal plan, I was forced to take spare snacks from friends or starve until I was able to return home.

Junior commuter student, Angelina Leanos said she was also surprised to learn about the Community Cupboard.

“I had no idea that this existed and I do wish that this was promoted more on campus, because it could be a really good resource for students… I feel like it should be talked about more, especially for commuters who sometimes may struggle with transportation or packing enough food, because that is an issue that I have come across in my experience commuting here to Cal Lu,” Leanos said. 

The fact that some students are going hungry just because they don’t know about this service is appalling. Our school makes it known when other events take place, and they should make this a well known resource as well.

Alexandria Warrender, a junior commuter student, said she was a little more aware of the program’s existence. 

“I’m pretty sure I heard about it like once before, but I didn’t know much about it,” Warrender said.

After learning what the Community Cupboard was, where to go and how it works, Warrender had verbally expressed interest in going to check it out. 

That isn’t to say knowledge of the Community Cupboard has completely escaped everyone. Melissa Romero, a junior commuter student, said she had known about the program but wasn’t aware it was still active. Even so, her opinion was not very different from Warrender’s.

“I think it’s a good idea, but not a lot of people know about it,” Romero said.

The Community Cupboard needs more advertising to take place across campus. We should see advertisements at the Student Union, Ullman Commons, Starbucks or even in articles like this one.

Other programs that can provide assistance to students include Swipes for Hunger, a program through the Chapel that allows students to eat at Ullman for free or through donated swipes. This program also provides limited amount of gift cards to Jamba Juice and Trader Joe’s.

“If this helps more students know that there’s resources for them then we’re happy to do that,” Holmerud said.