Merced College and UC Merced are serving up some healthy options for members of their community. The students of the two local colleges have created a program in association with the UC Food Pantry, supplying food once a month to students on both campuses.

Located at the Tri-College Center on the third Friday of every month, volunteers from both institutions participate in collecting groceries that are donated by the community, and even local businesses. Grocery companies within the community will donate an item of fresh produce, a vegetable or seasonal fruit to incorporate into the shopping bag. Once obtained, the students are tasked with creating a meal from the donated items, formulating recipes with nutritional value that are able to sustain families of varying size.

On the day of service, students prepare samples of the food for patrons as they collect their groceries, complete with the recipe notecard.

UC Merced’s Rupi Kaur supervises the program, collaborating with Merced College in obtaining a list of those in need of food assistance, signing up participants in advance so that the appropriate quantities of supplies are on site. It’s not limited to students from the two campuses, however. Any person with a college ID and proof of address is welcome. Amounts of food are portioned by members per household, and are limited to one location a month.

The Food Pantry runs their campaign year-round, including the summer months when school is no longer in session. The Pantry is located at the Tri-College Center, at G Street and Mercy Avenue.

-- Alessandria Pedretti