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Students line up to receive a meal from the AggieEats food truck.

The AggieEats food truck offers pay-what-you-can meals to up to 500 students per day on the University of California, Davis, campus.

Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Connecting students with basic needs resources is a concern for many institutions. At the University of California, Davis, staff are bringing the food to the students with the new AggieEats food truck.

AggieEats provides meals to students on campus every weekday at lunchtime, offering discounted or free cooked meals served by students to students.

What’s the need: An October 2022 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey found 42 percent of UC Davis students said they couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals, and 24 percent reported very low food security.

An infographic containing statistics related to food insecurity at the University of California, Davis

How it works: The AggieEats truck is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and it rotates through four locations on campus.

The truck rolled out for the first time on April 17, and staff plan to serve up to 500 meals per day.

Food trucks are already a regular occurrence on campus for lunchtime meals, and so the AggieEats truck combats a stigma around visiting a food bank. Additionally, it provides students with a cooked meal instead of raw ingredients or shelf-safe foods to prepare themselves.

Students order their meals on their smartphones at the truck and pay as much or as little as they want. The payment amount is confidential, and students don’t have to prequalify to receive a meal.

UC Davis staff hired professional chef Jesus “Sal” Ramirez in January to serve as the food truck coordinator, and he, along with a team of students, prepare and serve the meals every day.

Basic Needs in California Colleges

California bill AB-132 went into effect on July 1, 2022, requiring colleges in the state to establish both a basic needs coordinator and a Basic Needs Center that provides students with necessities like housing, food, clothing, feminine hygiene products, diapers, technology, childcare and mental health services and resources.

The center, a centrally located place on campus that houses the coordinator, should contain all basic needs resources or point students to the appropriate departments.

The bill also requires institutions to provide students with a list of all basic needs services and resources on and off campus.

AggieEats is funded through the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, Student Dining Services and donor support.

Serving up support: Beyond AggieEats, UC Davis also provides free produce to students on Mondays and Wednesdays and partnered with the Yolo Food Bank to provide weekly donations of fresh food. There are several pantries on campus that offer food to students at no cost, and the university has a food access map that highlights all the locations where students can find food.

UC Davis students can, additionally, apply for CalFresh, the supplemental nutritional assistance program in California, and receive up to $281 per month for groceries.

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