CSU Housing Food Insecurity Conference

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Conference to Best Meet the Needs of Housing Displaced and Food Insecure Students
Long Beach, CA
June 20, 2016

Thank you, Jessica for that introduction… and for all that you do on behalf of the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Fresno State, the California State University and the people of California.

It is my tremendous pleasure to welcome all of you to Long Beach and the Chancellor’s Office… and to the first California State University Conference to Best Meet the Needs of Housing Displaced and Food Insecure Students.

I want to thank you all for your work on tackling these issues on our campuses… for pushing the boundaries of what a university can accomplish… for your generosity, dedication and perseverance… and for building networks in your respective communities that are committed to ensuring that all of our students are supported and successful.

This week’s conference is years in the making… and while we have years of work ahead of us to tackle these incredibly difficult issues… today and tomorrow are important steps toward finding permanent, meaningful solutions for our housing displaced and food insecure students.

Our initial step toward a solution began last April when we commissioned a study to better identify and understand just how pervasive the issues of housing displacement and food insecurity were on our campuses.

And through that initial study, we learned that food and housing insecurity impacts hundreds of thousands of Cal State students… just as it is affecting countless communities across the state and nation.

I want to take a moment to personally thank the principal investigator of that report… Long Beach State professor Rashida Crutchfield… and her research team… for their outstanding work gathering student testimony and analyzing critical data.

On a side note… Professor Crutchfield’s research team is a great example of the applied research model – led by faculty with the essential inclusion of students and staff – that we champion so proudly in the California State University… as part of our public mission to solve the greatest challenges facing California and the world.

So, to Rashida and the entire Long Beach team, and Jen McGuire at Humboldt Statethank you for taking the first steps on this journey.

And indeed, due to this initial study commissioned 14 months ago… the California State University has become a national leader in studying the problem, finding new and innovative solutions to address it systemically on all 23 campuses and developing best practices that can be deployed on college and university campuses across California and the United States.

We’ve learned – from our faculty and student researchers, food pantry coordinators, and through the courage and honesty of countless students participating in the initial study – that more than one in five Cal State students have been food insecure… and approximately one in ten have been housing displaced at least once over the past year.

These figures – and the stories of our students – are both staggering and humbling. They are a gasp.

These students are our next generation of innovators and doers that will power California’s economy and society for the next fifty years. They are our most powerful social justice and environmental advocates. They are our future business and political leaders.

One place of food and housing security must be the California State University. Our value as an institution will be measured by how well we serve those students who need us the most.

This is why the system office is investing $300,000 over the next two years to further study this problem and identify best practices with the intent of initiating more campus-based pilot projects.

Additional research will help us better identify the students and groups on our campuses that are experiencing food insecurity and housing displacement… and develop robust plans and programs that will solve this crisis.

I have seen many of these pilot projects… like the Food Security Project at Fresno State, led by Jessica Medina… during my visits to Cal State campuses over the past year. I have met many of your faculty and staff colleagues… and I know the incredible impact that programs like these have on our students.

I witnessed firsthand the power of the peanut at Cal State San Bernardino’s DEN Food Pantry… and I saw the efforts to pack the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry at Chico State.

These examples – and countless others from many other campuses – are why I’m confident that we will tackle this problem… and, in the process, become state and national leaders on these issues in the process.

I’m confident because we are hard at work identifying, gathering and developing the resources, talent and skills needed to solve this problem on every Cal State campus.

Much of this talent and skill is in this room today.

And we have an unmatched collection of student leaders, world-class faculty and staff, dedicated alumni and community partners throughout California ready and eager to help along the way.

Getting this issue right – and eliminating the unnecessary physical and emotional stress for our food insecure and housing displaced students – is critically important.

Thank you.