Food is not a luxury – it is a basic need and a right. Students all over California are struggling to access food and it is impacting their health and academic performance.

In 2016, 11 CSU campuses participated in a study about food insecurity and homelessness among college students. According to the Study of Student Basic Needs, 41.6 percent of CSU students experience low or very low food insecurity.

Cal State San Bernardino helps to combat food insecurity by providing free groceries through the Obershaw DEN and free meals through Coyote Meal kits. More than 150 pounds of fresh nutritious produce was also grown by student volunteers in the CSUSB Community Garden and donated to the DEN last academic year.

Many throw away uneaten food or leftovers from meals and much of it goes to the landfill. The CSUSB Office of Sustainability’s 2018 waste audit of University Hall showed that food was the third largest type of waste in our trash. CalRecycle also reports that more than a third of California’s waste stream comes from food. This could provide nourishment for people who are food insecure. Instead, much of it rots in the landfill creating methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

CSUSB’s Food Waste and Recovery Working Group was formed in December to make sure Yotes are doing their part. Students, staff and Dining Services are providing graduated steps to divert all food from the Mid-Valley landfill, create a campus food recovery program, and increase awareness on the topic. ASI and ITS have developed an app that is in beta-testing through the MyCoyote app. Students will be able to learn where to go to recover CSUSB food items that would otherwise go to waste.

There are things you can personally do to waste less food and increase food security during the pandemic and normal campus operations. It will save you money, provide a way for you to do something positive for others and benefit the environment.

More Food, Less Waste Tips:

  • Be conscious of how much food you buy and throw away
  • Share food with others before it goes bad
  • Take or prepare portions that you can eat
  • Plant a Victory Garden
  • Compost or use the Organic Recycling Bin
  • Select food for the specific number of participants at events

To learn more about CSUSB’s Virtual Sustainability Week, April 20-25, daily prize drawings, and Food and Waste topics visit the Office of Sustainability’s website or email

See also the article “CSUSB Sustainability Week to help with environment, finances and social well-being.”

Stephany Muntean, who wrote this article, was a Q1 student intern in the Office of Sustainability.