It’s around this time of year, as the holiday season approaches, when the care and support we offer each other is on full display.
Take our recent record-setting Giving Day 2022. In just 24 hours, more than 3,700 UC Santa Cruz supporters made a tremendous impact on our community, raising more than $1 million for student-related projects and activities — everything from UCSC Opera to the Society of Women Engineers. These gifts directly advance student success, whether that be a student club, a research opportunity, or a connection that can catalyze social mobility. The sheer number of gifts we received this year is a testament to the generosity of our extended community.
The Second Harvest Holiday Food and Fund Drive, which we are involved with annually, is another way we come together to care and support each other, as well as the greater Santa Cruz community. Last year our campus effort beat all previous participation records, fundraising the equivalent of more than 375,000 meals. That effort earned UC Santa Cruz the President’s Cup award, presented to the public institution that raises the most meals during the food drive. UC Santa Cruz strives to be a good and reliable neighbor, and I am endlessly impressed by the members of our community who join together regularly to lend a hand to those in need.
In this case, that need extends directly to our campus. Many of our students struggle to get by in Santa Cruz, where the cost of living is so high. UC Santa Cruz receives more than 120,000 pounds of food from Second Harvest annually, much of it fresh fruits and vegetables, which is then distributed through Family Student Housing, our Slug Support program, and our Student Union Assembly pantries. I am extremely grateful for Second Harvest and for the collective generosity of so many in our community who choose to participate in the food drive. It makes such a difference.
Addressing student Basic Needs is a campus priority — another example of a common cause. Our goal, shared by the UC Regents, is to cut student food insecurity by at least 50 percent by spring 2025. The UCSC Farm and Garden, operated by our Center for Agroecology, plays a huge role in this effort, last year producing roughly 25,000 pounds of produce that went to students. In recent years we have launched numerous no-cost on-campus food resources such as the Cowell Coffee Shop, Redwood Free Market, and Produce Pop-Up. Food is also distributed through Family Student Housing, the SUA Pantry, and our STARS and EOP programs. Upcoming fundraising campaigns and benefit events will directly aid this effort. There is no need to wait for those who want to give now. The Center for Agroecology’s Foodways Fund, for example, supports the center’s student food-production, distribution, preparation, and service model. Donations ensure that culturally diverse, organic, sustainable foods are available to campus groups that partner with the center, including our resource centers, and the Slug Support Pantry.
The payoff is immense. Prioritizing student Basic Needs has been shown to improve UC access, affordability, academic performance, sense of belonging, time to degree, and graduation rates of both undergraduate and graduate students. Our Student Success Initiative is yet another way to help us build up the support system that is so important to the success students experience on our campus and what they achieve professionally and personally when they leave campus as alumni.
Thank you, Slugs, for your generosity. You are making a difference!
Cynthia Larive, Chancellor