Food insecurity threatens one in three college students nationally. Closer to home, 48 percent of UC Santa Cruz undergraduates say they don’t have consistent access to food. This problem has both physical and academic consequences—when students don’t have consistent access to food, their well-being and studies are impacted. The Redwood Free Market is a free resource for students, allowing them to take what they need from the pantry at no cost. Visitors have access to fresh produce, dry goods, and other pantry items.
Students rely on the Redwood Free Market to keep themselves nourished and healthy. During the 2022–23 school year, the market logged 10,181 visits. The Redwood Free Market is a critical resource for student success.
This was a 20 percent increase in visits to the food pantry over the previous year.
“You obviously can’t study if you’re hungry—or if you’re wondering where your next meal is coming from. For some people, something as basic as access to food is not basic. The Redwood Free Market helps keep students here so they can finish their degrees and move on to bigger and better things.”
–Estefanía Rodriguez, Basic Needs Program Manager
UC Santa Cruz partners with the local food bank to purchase food for the Redwood Free Market. Thanks to this partnership, every dollar donated to the Redwood Free Market goes even further. Every $1 donated provides 3 meals for a student in need.
The contributions of donors have allowed the market to expand their offerings. A personal care product dispenser has been introduced, providing those in need with free soap, detergent, and more.