Credit: Jackie Espitia | Mustang News, 2022

The Cal Poly Food Pantry faced an influx of student visitors this school year, serving nearly 2,000 students a week, according to Basic Needs Coordinator Hannah Steen. 

Located next to the Health Center on campus, the Food Pantry provides resources free of charge to students. The only requirement for entry is the student’s Poly Card or student email, though attendance is not recorded. Available supplies include fresh produce, freezer food and meat, refrigerated foods and personal hygiene items. 

The student demand for the Food Pantry has steadily increased over the years and this year is no exception, according to Steen.

“In the past, we’ve seen 10,000 student visits annually and this year we’re seeing 2,000 visits a week,” Steen said. “39% of students at Cal Poly experience food insecurity, [so] the Food Pantry is needed and it plays a major role in providing food for many students.”

To cope with the added number of visitors this year, the Food Pantry is working with lower-cost vendors so they are able to buy more supplies, Steen explained. She credits the unprecedented number of student visits to increased communication about the Food Pantry’s services from the pantry and amongst students, as well as rising costs of food overall. 

“The ability to afford healthy food and a variety of it is definitely a barrier for students, especially right now,” Steen said. “Getting to a full-service grocery store can be really challenging because there is not one right next to campus, so the Food Pantry is a very accessible option for students.”

Appreciating the Food Pantry’s convenience, vocal performance freshman Kimber Draughon explained they utilize the Food Pantry once or twice a week to get healthy snacks in between classes.

“When I’m going from class to class, the Food Pantry is a great resource to make sure I have a nutritious diet,” Draughon said. “There’s a lot less stress over making sure I get the right nutrients each day to stay healthy and energized, which I really appreciate.”

In addition to its day-to-day services, the Food Pantry partners with SLO Food Bank on the fourth Tuesday of every month to hold a grocery distribution event on the Health Center Lawn open to the community, Steen said. 

Overall, the Food Pantry’s primary goal is to provide a comfortable experience and anonymity to all who visit, psychology senior and Food Pantry Fellow Maileen Mamaradlo told Mustang News.

“We want students to know that we are there for them because food insecurity is a really hard thing to go through,” Mamaradlo said. “The most important thing of all is that students know there’s no judgment and they always have a safe space here.”

To find out more about the Food Pantry and how to use its services, visit or contact Food Pantry Coordinator Taffy Gonzalez at or 805-756-7818.