CSUEB Aims to Lower Number of Hungry, Homeless Students
The university has hired a case manager to help identify and meet the needs of students who are homeless, food insecure or financially unstable
A recent study released by the California State University chancellor’s office showed that one in 10 of the CSU’s 460,000 students is homeless. But Cal State East Bay has a plan and a person in place to help lower that number at its campuses.
Alex Baker, a case management coordinator, is a member of the university Care Team, which identifies and meets the needs of the university’s at-risk population — those students who are homeless, food insecure or financially unstable as well as those displaying concerning behaviors. Since he started in February, the team has identified almost 100 students dealing with either one or more of these issues.
He said the stress and worry of not knowing where the next meal will come from is often debilitating for students, some of whom threaten suicide on a regular basis.
“[Homelessness] takes away their hope … many of the students that face housing and food insecurity are either depressed or have suicidal thoughts and feel they have no reason to live or continue,” Baker said. “It takes away their drive to accomplish their dreams.”
So, he’s designing a program that will not only address the needs of the students, but gives them a sense of community and support.
“The students need more than a piece of paper and a list of resources,” Baker said. “They need consistent connection, support and hope that they can get through it.”
This fall, Baker, in collaboration with an advisory board consisting of members representing various campus departments, has plans to launch the Pioneers For HOPE initiative which will include a food pantry, host various drives to provide clothing, toiletries, address emergency housing for both men and women as well as address financial insecurity. In addition, he’s working with the campus Dining Commons to allow students living in the dorms to donate their leftover meals, via Baycard swipes, at the end of each quarter.
“We’re preventing and stopping campus-wide hunger and homelessness,” Baker said. “Anything to make their situation somewhat better.”