CSU students volunteering at campus food pantry
Story Basic Needs Initiative

How the CSU is Prioritizing Students’ Needs

Janessa Thropay

Learn how you can partner with the CSU in giving back this holiday season.

CSU students volunteering at campus food pantry

​Photo courtesy of Chico State


​​​As a national leader in studying the prevalence of food and housing insecurity for college students, the California State University (CSU) understands the significant role basic needs play in student success. With 23 universities and nearly 460,000 students, the CSU engages in a number of systemwide efforts and community and university partnerships throughout California to maximize the support services available to its students.​

In 2015 the CSU implemented Graduation Initiative 2025 (GI 2025), an ambitious effort to ensure that all students regardless of racial, ethnic or financial background have an equal opportunity to earn a college degree. Student Engagement & Well-Being was identified as one of the initiative's six operational priorities and the CSU developed a full-scale, systemwide effort to take a holistic look at students' well-being, both inside and outside the classroom, from housing and food security to mental health, to better support students on their path to graduation.

“As we work towards achieving our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals, it is of critical importance to ensure our students' wellness inside and outside of the classroom," comments Henoc Preciado, systemwide manager of the CSU's Basic Needs Initiatives. “Basic Needs Initiatives across the CSU aim to provide our students with the equitable supports needed to ensure that they have food security, housing security, financial stability, and their overall needs met so that they can focus on their coursework and persist to graduation."

All 23 campuses have a food panty or food distribution program, as well as offer on-campus emergency housing or vouchers for off-campus housing. Additionally, every CSU campus offers application assistance for Cal Fresh, a federally funded program that helps eligible students buy the food they need. In order to capitalize on every opportunity and ensure that all students have access to the services available, each campus has administrators or staff who manage programs and connect students to resources in their community.

Here are some examples of how CSU campuses are supporting students this holiday season:


​San José State University (SJSU) recently kicked off their second annual “Share Your Spartan Heart" campaign to raise awareness and generate donations for their basic needs program,
SJSU Cares, during the holiday season. Last year, the campaign raised almost $14k to support students who needed additional assistance.

Along with their annual campaign, SJSU continues to monitor requests for assistance and provides support to urgent cases even while the campus is closed for the holiday break.


F​or the third consecutive year, Stanislaus State has supplied students with fall and winter dinner kits during the months of November and December. These turkey or tamale dinner kits include all the items needed to prepare a delicious and nutritious seasonal meal.

This supplemental food service was first launched in November 2020 during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week (NHHAW) when the pandemic was in full effect. In an effort to explore new ways to enhance food security for students and their families, Stanislaus State developed the dinner kits as a way to provide a special meal during the holidays, and students loved them.


In addition to the various resources available to students in need through  SDSU's Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT), San Diego State's residential communities will remain open and staffed over winter recess. If any students need housing during winter break and live in a building that does not remain open, the office of housing administration works with the student to complete a room switch request form so the student can be moved to a building that remains open and staffed.​​


CSU Bakersfield is getting in the holiday spirit with several opportunities to donate. Multiple departments on the CSUB campus are currently collecting clothes, food and other items to support students and foster children in the community who are in need.

Additionally, CSUB's Student Recreation Center (SRC) is holding its annual Giving Tree event in which ​individuals can select an ornament​ from the Christmas tree in the lobby and purchase a gift for a local teen in foster care between the ages of 12 and 18.

CSUB will also be providing holiday meals on Dec. 25 to students who will be staying in the residence hall this holiday season along​ with gift baskets that will include CSUB gear, such as sweatshirts and stockings filled with snacks and goodies.

These examples highlight only a few of the many ways CSU campuses are providing for students needs this holiday season. Visit Student Resources for more information on the services available at each campus.


To learn more about how you can partner with the CSU this holiday season, visit CSU Cares or get involved by donating to your local campus' food pantry.