One of the many things you may experience in college is having sleep for dinner. Stories of students experiencing food insecurity or malnutrition seem to be growing among countless universities, including our very own UC Merced. With the immense cost of tuition skyrocketing  along with the additional cost of living, burdens form in student finances and can cause students to lower the quality of their diets and or even resort to not eating at all. With this issue in mind, I had the pleasure of meeting with Penny Paxton, UC Merced Health Educator, to discuss the nutrition assistance program CalFresh.

Penny describes CalFresh as a “federally funded program known as SNAP which is a supplemental nutritious program formerly known as food stamps. This program is designed to give additional food benefits to extend your food budget.” More simply put, if eligible, you can receive money monthly to purchase more nutritious groceries. Students can receive assistance to enroll by going to KL 117 during drop in hours on Mondays from 2pm to 5pm or schedule an appointment for Thursday mornings from 9am to 11am. During the appointment,you will be walked through the entire process and can receive step by step assistance on your application for the program from a trained student staff member or one of the three members of professional staff: Penny Paxton, Bavneet Kaur, or Kristin Hlubik. 

Paxton used to work for a nonprofit organization where she would help members of low socioeconomic status in the community enroll in CalFresh and teach them how to use the benefits. So when she received her current position at UC Merced, Paxton asked herself, “Why weren’t students doing it? When I was an undergraduate student I was on CalFresh”. She has numerous years of experience with the program, along with Kaur and Hlubik, so UCM students can receive quality assistance. The student staff are trained and well informed on the program as well. As Paxton said, “This program on campus wouldn’t be possible without the help of the student staff.” Students at UCM will receive the best possible service when it comes to getting the nutrition they need and avoid the dreaded “sleep for dinner” thanks to CalFresh.

Appointment and additional information can be found here on their website.

Photo Credit: Lucy Bautista


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