CalFresh Outreach at Chico State provides help for starving students


Emily Foxworthy, program manager and student intern coordinator for CalFresh Outreach. Photo Credit: Emily Foxworthy

Hannah Yeager

Being a starving college student used to be the “norm.” After paying rent, PG&E and internet, most students have barely enough money to buy groceries to make healthy and balanced meals.

A program called CalFresh has recently partnered with Chico State in order to make a long-term solution available to students. This program is an alternative to the food pantry on campus, and acknowledges that it is not realistic for students to make a trip to the pantry every week.

Eligibility for this program is based off of the following:

  • Work at least 20 hours per week, on average, OR
  • Are approved for state or federal work-study money and anticipate working during the term, OR
  • Are a full-time student with a child under age 12, OR
  • A part-time student with a child under age 6, OR
  • A part-time student with a child age 6-11 without adequate child care, OR
  • Are receiving CalWORKs, OR
  • Are enrolled in CalFresh employment and training or another job training program accepted by CalFresh, OR
  • Do not plan to register for the next school term.

Students who are eligible will receive a credit card with money, an average a student receives around $150 a month that they can use at any grocery store of their choice to buy any food item of their choice.

Emily Foxworthy is both the program manager of the CalFresh Outreach program but is also a Chico State Alumni who graduated with a BS in Nutrition and Food Science with an option in Dietetics. She works with students and student interns, educating them on nutrition and on how to guide their peers through the application process.

“That’s, like, the whole beauty of it. When you really are invested and have a passion you just show up and enjoy your work,” Foxworthy said. “You are able to get through those hard days and those challenging situations because you are able to just work together as a team.”

“My daily work is really mentoring our interns and supporting them through their first pre-professional work experience, so they can do great things after graduation.”

She helps prepare students for when they start looking to launch their careers in food or nutritional science. Foxworthy trains them in both nutrition and outreach so that they can have experience in learning and teaching good healthy eating habits to their peers who may rely on Ramen or Cup of Noodles to get through the day.

“The pantry is great for a today solution or make it through the weekend solution but we want to let students know that there is a long-term solution. That students could be receiving money every single month to buy groceries of their choice,” Foxworthy said.

According to Foxworthy, they believe that all students have the basic right to food. Food isn’t a privilege but a right that all students who are in need should take advantage of.

“That’s why it’s called an entitlement program,” Foxworthy said, “because if you qualify you are entitled to receive that money and that benefit.”

Students don’t have to pay the money that they use for food back because, as Foxworthy said, they are entitled to the food, it is a natural right. It isn’t a credit card that they will have to pay back.

“We exist because this problem is real. That’s our hope. It’s that students know and that we kind of normalizes this issue,” Foxworthy said. “It’s hard being a college student and it’s hard coming up with those dollars after tuition and books and rent…Food is like the last thing.”

Hannah Yeager can be reached at the [email protected] or @theorion_news.