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Basic Needs programs offer supplies, food for students

Published April 10, 2020

The student lost their job in February and remained unemployed because of COVID-19. Without substantial income, the Cal State Long Beach graduate student faced eviction and eventually was kicked out. 

With nowhere to turn, the student reached out to the Basic Needs Program and received meals and housing for 19 days. In addition, the student is slated to be placed in the Rapid Housing Program with Jovenes, a local housing program for youths ages 18-25. 

This student was just one of nearly 100 cases Basic Needs Program handled in March through the Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness Pprogram as well as Cal Fresh Outreach. The SEIWP handed out 275 meals to 18 students, helped house two students, allotted $10,000 in grants to 20 students and gave $1,575 in gift cards to 22 students. 

suppliesDr. Kenneth Kelly, director of Basic Needs Program, said the coronavirus outbreak has increased demand for services and financial help. Basic Needs helped 226 students throughout the 2018-19 academic year. 

The increase of cases will benefit from a recent donation drive to the CSULB Student Emergency Fund, which has raised to date $115.724, money that will be used for student needs, such as hot meals, emergency travel and medical expenses. 

The final total of the fundraiser that runs through May 1 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000 by an outside donor. 

“We are seeing a lot of students who need money because they have been laid off and that affects their housing situation,” Kelly said. “The past two weeks have been eye-popping.” 

One student applied online because they could no longer work as a bartender/server and was unable to support themselves. The student applied for unemployment benefits, but was making just one-third of his salary. Their parents also had been laid off from their jobs. 

That student was referred to Cal Fresh, was given food, toiletries and gift cards. 


To help meet demands and adhere to social distancing guidelines, the ASI BeachPantry has been conducting pop-up service on Fridays, when students can get food, toiletries and blankets. Kelly said among the donors,United Airlines donated 2,000 high-end blankets and StarKist gave hundreds of cans of tuna to the ASI Beach Pantry.

“We have been able to provide more than 200 meals to students and I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Kelly said of the initial pop-up effort. “I’m sure we could have had 600.” 

Students not only have asked for money and food, but counseling as well. Kelly said this a difficult time for these students. His four-person team refers them to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

“We are trying to take a multi-faceted approach to all issues,” Kelly said.