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Beach Bites app coming soon to CSULB

Beach Bites is the latest endeavor in fighting food insecurity on campus.

A look at the Beach Bites app.

Photo courtesy of Macey Lindsay-Clinton

A look at the Beach Bites app.

Daniela Alvarez, Staff Writer

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Students will soon be able to access free meals on campus while also helping Cal State Long Beach eliminate food waste.

Beach Bites will be the newest mobile food app available to CSULB, geared especially for students. The app will notify those who sign up for leftover food from events on campus. Event hosts will make posts on Beach Bites to alert students what kind of food is available and the location of the event.

“Many students aren’t able to afford meals, so we’re doing the right thing,” Assistant Dean of Students Carol Menard-Fulthorp said.

Student development fellow Macey Lindsay-Clinton said students’ need for accessing food is apparent.

Lindsay-Clinton referred to a study conducted last year by assistant professor for CSULB’s School of Social Work Rashida Crutchfield. Her study found that 21 percent of students in the CSU system experience food insecurity.

The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”

The idea for Beach Bites originally came from Jeff Klaus, vice president for student affairs, Menard-Fulthorp said. Klaus had heard of Fresno State working on a similar app.

Now, CSULB administration – including Lindsay-Clinton –  is working with Information Technology Services to finish creating Beach Bites.

“Social services and programs already exist [on campus], but they are a cumbersome and daunting task,” Lindsay-Clinton said. “We want to normalize this experience.”

CSULB has several on-campus resources for accessing meals and nutrition information as part of the Student Emergency Intervention and Wellness Program. These include the Associated Students Inc. Beach Pantry and the CalFresh program which offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income people.

Beach Bites will be the latest addition to SEIWP, which aims at providing students with meals, housing, emergency funds and counseling, according to the student affairs division website.

Beach Bites will allow students to access a meal without paying for it. At the same time, on-campus events will refrain from throwing away excess food. Last month, Greek 101 held an event at the University Student Union and had about 60 Subway lunch boxes left over, which they gave away to students walking by.

According to Menard-Fulthorp, this event is just one of many examples where Beach Bites will come in handy.

“Beach Bites will make it easy,” said Menard-Fulthorp. “It will operationalize the process.”

Lindsay-Clinton will soon be training faculty and staff members to be administrators for Beach Bites. They will be able to set the location of the event, type of food and other information to be sent out in an app notification to students.

In a video tutorial for administrators, Lindsay-Clinton goes through the step-by-step process of creating a Beach Bites notification.

Administrators will choose from a drop down menu of locations, type in the description box about what type of food is available and choose a time frame for how long the food will be available.

Menard-Fulthorp said that Beach Bites is just one part of a bigger picture. The hope is to soft launch the app by the end of the semester and have it available to the entire campus by the end of spring 2017.

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