- Across multiple UC campuses via their Blum Centers
- Student-led action on poverty issues across the UC system
In April 2017, UC students across California participated in Global Poverty Action Days (GPAD). Virtually all UCs organized events on issues related to poverty that resonated with their campus and surrounding communities via the Student Action Council for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality (SACEPI). The issues touched on food and housing insecurity, responsible production and consumption, technology and humanitarian relief, poverty and foreign aid, as well as the intersection of poverty and health care.
At UC Santa Barbara, Global Poverty Action Day (2017) efforts focused on identifying key problems in global production and consumption practices, how these have changed over time, and what youth can do to address issues of responsible production and consumption individually and collectively. Drawing on a film screening of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1000 garment workers in Bangladesh, and a panel discussion with experts on global supply chains and ethical production practices (which included academics, local business, and a youth activist), these events provided students with the opportunity to explore these issues in more detail. As one SACEPI student noted, the biggest takeaway was learning more about where everyday products come from, how much goes into these products - in terms of implications for the environment and people’s lives - which has pushed him to think more conscientiously when making his purchases.
At UC Berkeley, the Blum Center focused on the intersection of technology and humanitarian relief in response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The panel featured Dr. Rohini J. Haar - an emergency medicine physician with expertise in health and human rights; Joseph Guay - an expert in information management solutions in the humanitarian and human rights fields; Natasha Azad Beale - a Program Manager for the Center for Effective Global Action; and Oliver Blank - an artist, designer, and composer working with Google.org. The panel discussed and critiqued academic, private sector, NGO and refugee led efforts to address humanitarian crisis via tech and the obstacles that displaced populations face in innovation, with an emphasis on the creative problem-solving of refugees.
At UCLA, the Blum Center hosted an event focused on the intersection of poverty, health disparities, and health care access - titled “Obamacare, Trumpcare, You Care: Health Care Access, Policy, and Action.” The panel included Dr. Michael Rodriguez - Professor and Vice Chair of UCLA Family Medicine; David Ditullio - Graduate Student Representative to UC-SHIP Executive Oversight Board and MD/PhD student at David Geffen School of Medicine; and Emily Cohen - Finance Director to Bruin Democrats. The panelists answered questions from students about vulnerable populations, barriers to healthcare access, the future of healthcare policy in America, and effects the national policy might have on student health insurance. In addition to the panel discussion, Bruin Democrats presented on how to best contact state representatives and effectively communicate on national policy issues.
At UC Davis, the Blum Center aimed to engage the local community on issues at the intersection of development policy, foreign aid, and global poverty eradication by screening the film – Poverty Inc. The event drew over 60 attendees and included a group discussion facilitated by UC Davis professor Monique Borgerhoff-Mulder and retired consultant Ed Connerley, who answered questions informed by their extensive experience working in the international development arena. Audience members also had the opportunity to donate to an initiative spearheaded by a UC Davis alumnus, Carolina Tavaréz, to rebuild a library in Haiti destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. Ms. Tavaréz was a former Blum grant recipient who had started a nonprofit to help teach Spanish and construct a library in the Anse-a-Pitres community located on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Several other campuses chose to focus on food insecurity, given its resonance among the study body and community members. At UC Irvine, for instance, the Blum Student Ambassadors Council hosted a panel discussion and a resource fair titled Cultivating Solutions: Food Access and Nutrition. The panel included Andrea Gutierrez - the Food Access and Security Coordinator at UCI SOAR; Jody Margolis - registered dietitian for UCI Student Wellness and Health Promotion; Tyson Monagle - a marketing coordinator at Aramark; Renee Stevenson - Operations Director at South County Outreach; and Kendall Omagari - CalFresh Capacity Coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank. The event sought to stimulate a meaningful discussion about food access and nutrition, eliminate the stigma often attached to issues of food insecurity and poverty, and to connect students with ways to get involved.
At UC San Diego, the Blum Cross-Border Initiative hosted a panel on poverty action and food resilience showcasing various projects that serve as forms of resistance, empowerment, and efforts to create healthy communities in this bi-national region. Speakers from both the U.S. and Mexican side of the border shared their efforts to create food resilience and social capital via urban food production, gardening, and nutrition education. Panelists included Brie Iatarola - UCSD Communications and Volunteer at Ocean View Growing Grounds; Dan Watman - Director of the Binational Friendship Garden; Angela Tomlinson - founder of Proyecto SUAVE; and Adriana Whizar - Director of Rancho Bajamasol. The event concluded with keynote speaker, Dr. Luis Cabrera, from Griffith University discussing global citizenship and how it translates to poverty action. The audience, including UCSD students and faculty, COLEF students, and the San Diego community, had an engaging conversation on what can be done at the ground level to alleviate poverty in diverse contexts.
At UC Santa Cruz, students organized a series of “Pop-Up Poverty Conversations” on food and housing insecurity. The goals of these conversations were to raise awareness about the prevalence of food and housing insecurity in the campus community, provide students with an opportunity to share their experiences, brainstorm poverty alleviation strategies, and connect students with resources. The Blum Center partnered with the Slug Support team at the Dean of Students Office, and the Santa Cruz Tenants Association, to inform students about existing services and opportunities for advocacy and action. Blum students learned there was a real need for increased awareness and education about what defines food and housing insecurity, and what resources exist on campus to assist UCSC students experiencing food and housing insecurity. Staff and interns from Slug Support were able to speak with students about the valuable resources they offer, such as helping with CalFresh enrollment. The highlight of this event was the opportunity for students to have a dialogue with their peers about serious issues that affect their campus community.
UC Riverside partnered with the on-campus organization, OverFlow, to jointly host the event – “The Fight to Fill the Plate! Ending Food Insecurity On-Campus and in Our Community”. OverFlow is a community service organization at UC Riverside that plans service projects to help the homeless locally. This event gave students the opportunity to prepare hygiene kits for people in need, as well as learn about food insecurity on campus and available resources. Students were also able to write motivational notes to support those receiving the care packages. In addition, students were also informed about poverty at UCR, and received information on how they could get involved in the community. Overall, the purpose of the event was to provide students with the opportunity to get involved, and create an open space for students to talk about poverty and inequality, and how to combat poverty and inequality as a campus and community.
Finally at UC Merced, the Blum Center hosted “Building Bridges in Merced” at the Mcnamara Community Center on the South Side of Merced, where health and social disparities disproportionately affect community members. The event aimed to engage the community through table discussions, which included students, professors, graduate students, and members of the Merced Community. The discussions were an hour long, providing time to create temporary solutions to food insecurity and homelessness. The event also facilitated the development of a relationship with the Merced Community, helped students learn about their privilege as university students, as well as how to use that privilege to collaborate with the Merced Community.