When the COVID-19 pandemic hit campus in March 2020, several groups, including the Triton Food Pantry, the Student Sustainability Collective and the Food Recovery Network, came together to ensure that students maintained food security during the closure. 

The Triton Food Pantry continued to recover food from local grocery stores and harvested produce from campus community gardens. The Student Sustainability Collective and Triton Food Pantry acted quickly to establish pickup window service and arrange additional mobile food pantry locations so that students sheltering in place could have convenient access to nutritious food. During the 2019-20 academic year, the Triton Food Pantry was visited 19,753 times by 4,979 students.

The Graduate Student Association also began working with the Food Recovery Network and the Triton Food Pantry to organize pop-up food distributions for graduate students to share food recovered from campus dining facilities. In addition to feeding students, dining facility donations prevented wasting previously purchased perishable food.

These dedicated groups worked together to adapt their sustainability and basic needs programs to meet unexpected campus demands. Through their characteristic collaboration and problem-solving efforts, UC San Diego’s community of sustainability organizations provided nutritious food to students who were facing academic and financial uncertainty.