Cal State Fullerton students eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program available through CalFresh enjoyed more on-campus dining options this semester.
Known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, CalFresh is the largest food assistance program in the state, providing monthly food benefits to low-income individuals and families.
The Restaurant Meals Program goes a step further, offering certain individuals at risk for chronic hunger to use their CalFresh benefits to purchase prepared meals at participating restaurants.
At the start of the fall semester, campus eateries accepting RMP included Carl’s Jr., Togo’s, Pieology, Baja Fresh and Fresh Kitchen.
The RMP from CalFresh is available to CSUF students age 60 and older, students with disabilities, and homeless students and their spouses.
Students who want to apply for CalFresh benefits can do so at CSUF’s Basic Needs Services, which offers a variety of short-term services and support for CSUF students, including food, short-term housing assistance, hygiene products, clothing and emergency grant funds.
Basic Needs Services is starting to do more outreach to make students aware of long-term programs such as CalFresh and other support, Director of Basic Needs Services Victoria Ajemian said.
“A lot of our students potentially meet the eligibility criteria,” Ajemian said. “It may just be a combination of them not knowing or not being interested.”
Students submit an online application to CalFresh and then get notified by a representative whether they qualify or not.
Aside from CalFresh, Basic Needs Services offers shorter-term food assistance.
Students can receive free meals through the Gastronome for up to two weeks and may be able to receive an ASC guest card, which can be used at most on-campus dining establishments.
To qualify for support from Basic Needs Services, students must be experiencing a current, very recent unanticipated basic needs insecurity such as food, housing, vehicle, utilities or medical-related during the semester of their request.
Basic Needs Services recipients must also be currently matriculated and enrolled at least part time during the semester of their request.
Recipients must be in good academic standing, with a GPA of 2.0 or higher; however, students with a lower GPA might still be considered, Ajemian said.
Basic Needs Services is located in McCarthy Hall.
The initiative has been in operation since 2018, Ajemian said.
“I would say more students have accessed our services over the years,” she said. “We’ve become more known on campus, and students are more aware of the service we provide.”
Basic Needs Services hosted two on-campus workshops to help students with CalFresh applications.
The first permanent food pantry at Cal State Fullerton opened in August 2021 and continues to serve students experiencing food insecurity.