The Basic Needs Movement

Serving the UCLA community with the 1st Food Pantry in the UC system and the state of California.

The CPO Food Closet, established in 2009, has brought national attention to conversations around basic needs on university campuses, which started with a small effort in the CPO that has now expanded to all 10 UC campuses and colleges around the country.

For more information on all UCLA basic needs services, please visit

What We Do


The CPO Food Closet is an anonymous resource that offers food and other basic necessities to students and community members struggling to attain food or experiencing additional financial challenges. The Food Closet accepts in-kind and monetary donations that can go towards supporting the daily operations of our service.

For more information, visit our Instagram.


As part of an additional effort to increase food access to students facing food insecurity and financial hardship, the Community Programs Office (CPO) brings the CPO Food Closet to student services’ spaces. This program is to ensure that departments can collaborate with the CPO to meet the short-term food needs of students.


Since 2016, the CPO has offered intersession food assistance to students in need during the Thanksgiving and winter holiday breaks.The CPO Food Box Giveaway Program is comprised of the Turkey Box Giveaway and Holiday Box Giveaway. Each event provides over 500 food boxes to undergraduate and graduate students to share with their families.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food box giveaway program expanded to include professional students, staff and retirees.


CalFresh, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides individuals and families up to $194/month to purchase groceries. This nutrition assistance program is also available for students attending college. As a result, the CalFresh Initiative at UCLA was created to promote awareness on student eligibility and provide application assistance to students in order to receive CalFresh benefits.

The CalFresh Initiative at UCLA offers weekly hours, hosts quarterly Basic Needs Fairs/CalFresh Enrollment Days, and tables at various campus events to increase campus awareness on student eligibility.

For more information, visit our Instagram.


The Food Card Program is a temporary online effort intended to provide critical support to our students despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 crisis. The food card program distributes three $100 food cards throughout each quarter to qualified students. These cards are available for use at Ralph’s, Food 4 Less, or Kroger depending on the distribution cycle. The intent of these food cards is to supplement student financial aid support and CalFresh benefits, as the CPO Food Closet typically does in a virtual format to accommodate campus changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


During Summer 2020, CPO’s basic needs team worked with Residential Life staff to develop and disseminate a survey to residents in the University Apartments North and South (UAN and UAS, respectively) in order to better understand how to collectively address gaps in their basic needs. As a result, we developed a Summer Food Box Giveaway (2020) for UAN and UAS residents where students have the opportunity to secure a box full of staple food items.

This program is designed to serve students who may have dependents or extended family requiring support.


The UCLA Community Programs Office (CPO) partners with 580 Cafe, ASUCLA, and UCLA Residential Life to offer the Bruin Meals Program. The Bruin Meals Program is intended to offer pre-made meals to Bruins and their families living at the University Apartments.

Program participants have the opportunity to select one of the following meal options:
• Individual meals
• Family-sized meals

For more information, contact


Bruin Bites is a text-messaging app that notifies students of available food from on-campus events. In order to receive notifications, students must opt-in by logging in with their UCLA single sign-on credentials.

Sign-up for the Bruin Bites service here.


The Grocery Bundle Program was created in 2016 to to support long-term users of the Food Closet who may experience additional challenges accessing basic needs-related resources on campus. Bundles include dairy, grains, fresh produce, and canned goods that can be prepared into several meals throughout the week. Prospective program participants must complete an application each academic quarter and will begin receiving bundles during Weeks 3-10.


Our CPO Basic Needs Services in Numbers


Lbs. of food distributed by the CPO Food Closet


Students served by CPO Online Food Card Program


Student contacts made by FITTED Eats Program


Food boxes distributed to UCLA students and families

Why We Keep Working

In the 2016 UC Student Food Access and Security Study, 48% of university undergraduates and 25% of graduate students experience some level of food insecurity.

Our goal is simple: to ensure that no student goes hungry at the university.

We assist our campus population by providing:
– Sustainable and nutritious food
– Toiletries and other personal care products
– Assistance navigating financial aid and other supplemental resources such as CalFresh
– Bringing awareness to basic needs issues by developing policy and programmatic initiatives at the campus and state-wide level

A more comprehensive list of UCLA basic needs services and programs is available at

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Any financial assistance helps my daughters and I out.”

This gift card and the ones to come will help my family of 3 tremendously. I am a single mother of 2, full time student, and unemployed due to the pandemic. Any financial assistance helps my daughters and I out. I am incredibly grateful for the assistance and I hope to pay it forward one day and help another the way you have helped me. Thank you so much.

– Student Recipient of the Summer 2020 Online Food Card Program

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“I feel extremely relieved”

During this difficult time these gift cards have helped me purchase essential needs for my baby such as diapers and baby wipes which are very expensive during these rough times. I feel extremely relieved both economically and mentally to know that I still have some income to provide for my family and for that I am grateful!

Student Recipient of the Spring 2020 Online Food Card Program

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“The box was so amazing we almost cried.”

It was an incredible blessing and allowed me to have enough money to support me and my unemployed partner until my next paycheck. The shampoo and conditioner ESPECIALLY was a wonderful surprise and was very much appreciated. Thank you so much for this kindness especially during these times. The box was so amazing we almost cried. Overall we are super grateful for this opportunity.

Student Recipient of the UA Summer Food Box Giveaway