Through the Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program, student staff, career staff and volunteers pick up surplus food and take it to those in need at various shelters, pantries, migrant camps and other sites. A great deal of this food went to the D St. Shelter, a 24-hour homeless shelter. In early summer, when the shelter stopped taking donations from the public to limit contact with others during the pandemic, the program coordinator had to quickly find a home for the food picked up from local flea markets. Numerous challenges arose in finding a new recipient, particularly one that could accept the large volume of produce (300-600 pounds) collected each week.
After some creative problem-solving, the coordinator reached out to Merced County fire stations to see if the essential workers needed food for their families. They agreed to take 10 boxes per week. Any additional produce would then be distributed in smaller quantities to a women’s shelter, local migrant camps and among UC students. Through this test in patience and resilience, the program has truly lived up to its slogan: Save the food. Feed the people.