The Food Fighter

June 14, 2017

CSUN student Gabrielle Maestas was instrumental in establishing the CSUN Food Pantry.

Gabrielle MaestasGabrielle Maestas has never personally experienced the struggle of not having enough to eat, but she knows the realities of food insecurity all too well. During the 2016-17 academic year, she helped to oversee the Matador Involvement Center’s launch of the CSUN Food Pantry.

“With the implementation of the pantry, CSUN equips its students with the ability to succeed in multiple aspects of their lives,” she says. “Including fulfilling basic needs such as fueling the body.”

A psychology major, Gabrielle first learned about the food pantry last year when her boyfriend was asked to help design the logo. Organizers needed help getting it up and running. Gabrielle’s interest ― and her leadership experience as president of Acasola, CSUN’s awarding winning a cappella group – made her a perfect fit for the job.

“I really wanted to be a part of developing the program and helping people get to know campus resources,” she says.

As the food pantry student assistant, Gabrielle supervised volunteers and interns, answered emails and other correspondence, managed social media, assisted clients and helped keep the operation stocked with enough healthy food donations. 

Today, the CSUN Food Pantry provides much-needed nourishment to approximately 80 clients each week, and Gabrielle remains struck by their tremendous gratitude.

“People are overwhelmingly grateful,” she says.

One patron even delivered a handwritten note of appreciation during the middle of winter break.

Gabrielle won’t be returning to the food pantry as an employee next semester (she’s moved on to a new opportunity working with at-risk adolescent youth), but the experience will continue to shape her CSUN experience.

“Working so closely with the students and staff strengthened the connection between me and this campus by showing me the diversity, hope and possibilities it has to offer,” she says. “I truly feel like am a Matador.”