Continuing its efforts to support student food and housing security programs, California State University, Chico will launch its 2018 Chico Cares campaign today at noon at the Wildcats Can donation drive reception inside the Bell Memorial Union.

This is the culmination of the two-week annual Wildcats Can event that helps supply the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry with supplemental food for students in need.

“Good nutrition and stable housing are key basic needs and are essential for positive student wellness, academic performance and a successful path toward graduation,” said Basic Needs Administrator Joe Picard.

The goal of the annual Chico Cares campaign is to provide long-term support for basic needs services, so that students struggling with food and housing insecurity will always have the resources and referral support they need to focus on their academic success and graduate.

To that end, the Chico Cares campaign is raising $75,000 to fund the Basic Needs Project this year. Through the generous support of donors on and off campus, the campaign plans to culminate on Giving Day on November 27, 2018.

The 2018 CSU Student Study of Basic Needs research study indicated that 50 percent of CSU, Chico student respondents suffered from low to very low food security—an estimated 8,000 students. The survey also indicated that an estimated 500 CSU, Chico students experienced homelessness in the last year.

To begin addressing these emerging needs, the CSU system launched the Basic Needs Initiative in 2016 to support the more than 100,000 students throughout California who experience food and housing insecurity. That same year, CSU, Chico launched the Basic Needs Project to formally establish the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry in a dedicated campus location and to provide support for students through the administration of emergency grants and short-term housing services.

To assist in funding food and housing security programs and services, the inaugural Chico Cares campaign was established in May 2017 with the initial endowment gift and pledge from the Chico chapter of the California Faculty Association. Through the generous support of nearly 2,000 student, staff, alumni, parent and community contributors, more than $70,000 in funds were raised for the Chico Cares campaign last year.

These funds have helped the Basic Needs Project open a dedicated location for the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry and double its food distribution efforts, serving more than 4,000 students while providing over 35 tons of healthy food—an equivalent of 58,000 meals in the last year.

Established in 2013, the Chico State Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry has grown to serve more than 4,000 students during the 2017-18 academic year—a significant increase from 1,900 students the preceding year. The expansion is largely due to the support of the Chico Cares campaign.

Through campus and community agency collaboration, the Project also assisted dozens of students with off-campus housing support and placed 13 homeless students into short-term and transitional housing. It also facilitated more than $10,000 in emergency grants and employment opportunities for students in unexpected financial crisis.

“The challenges associated with accessing adequate healthy food and affordable housing and the resulting financial stress continues to be a significant barrier to graduation,” said Picard. “The Chico Cares campaign is our campus and community-wide effort to address student poverty, so that we have the funding to support and grow our food and housing services.”

As support increases, the number of students served is expected to increase once again with the goal of serving 6,000 students this academic year. To assist in longer-term food assistance, participants are also supported through CalFresh USDA SNAP application assistance in the Pantry through a partnership with the nationally recognized CSU, Chico Center for Healthy Communities.

Support the Chico Cares campaign online or text “chicocares” to 71777 on your mobile device. Students can join the cause by visiting the Student Philanthropy Council website.