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Guided by Student Research, Woodbury University College of Liberal Arts Presents Global Hunger Foundation Grants to MEND, Leah’s Pantry/San Diego

Awards Highlight Growing Awareness of Food Insecurity Off-Campus – And On


As “food insecurity” emerges as a concern on-campus and off, Woodbury University’s College of Liberal Arts has awarded two social service agencies in Los Angeles and San Diego with three $1,000 grants funded through a gift from the Global Hunger Foundation ( – agencies that Woodbury students vetted and selected.

Tasked with conferring awards on organizations dedicated to supporting communities suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and other food insufficiency problems, students in ethics and urban studies courses researched prospective recipients in Los Angeles and San Diego.  They zeroed in on groups that were well organized, with a clear mission and evidence of effective execution of plans, and who addressed both short-term food insufficiency and long-term educational needs, ultimately selecting MEND ( — Meet Each Need with Dignity, in Pacoima, for two awards – and Leah’s Pantry (, in San Diego, for one. 

The Global Hunger Foundation, “dedicated to raising consciousness and funds to prevent and alleviate hunger in the developing world,” made the initial gift to the College in October 2014, to support these student-driven projects.

“Today, the developing world can be found in our own backyards,” said Douglas J. Cremer, PhD., Dean, Woodbury University College of Liberal Arts.  “The old saying, ’Give someone a fish and you feed them for a day — teach someone to fish and you feed them for a lifetime,’ is often posed as an either/or choice.  These organizations have made the bold decision to see the saying as a both/and solution.”

The student-run awards process dovetails with the university’s own initiative to stem food insecurity on campus, through a food pantry that opened during the spring semester. 

“By studying food insecurity in the community, our students have become more aware of hunger within their midst,” Cremer said.  “That’s where Pop’s Pantry, Woodbury’s own food pantry, fits in.  Not having enough to eat isn’t simply something that happens to someone else.  While some students may be shy about asking, there’s zero stigma attached to the pantry – all a student needs to do is show up and says they need some help.  They need to know that they’re not alone.”

According to Cremer, the pantry is stocked with basics – dry goods, canned goods, etc. – and operates on an honor system.  Woodbury’s student development office has put the word out about the pantry, which is expected to re-open for the fall semester.   

Global Hunger Award Recipients

Starting in the early 1970s as a small group of volunteers working from a garage in the San Fernando Valley, MEND is now the largest anti-poverty agency in the Valley, with 37,000 clients each month.  The organization has grown primarily by word-of-mouth into one of the leanest operating non-profits in the country.  More than 94 percent of the support and donations the organization receives go directly to providing emergency food, clothing, medical, vision and dental care, job skills training and job placement assistance, English as a Second Language classes, youth activities, and a Christmas program.

Leah’s Pantry’s mission is to promote healthier lives and prevent disease among underserved populations through innovative nutrition programs. The organization works to foster a more equitable and inclusive food system.  Through pre- and post-questionnaires, Leah’s Pantry measures whether participants in its Food Smarts Workshops have made significant changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors around food choices and shopping habits.  The organization also measures whether participants enjoy coming to class.  Its latest outcome evaluation, with data taken from the summer of 2015, reported significant results across many indicators and extremely high class satisfaction. 

About Woodbury University

Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California.  The university ranks 15th among the nation’s “25 Colleges That Add the Most Value,” according to Money Magazine, and is a 2016-17 College of Distinction.  With campuses in Burbank/Los Angeles and San Diego, the university offers bachelor’s degrees from the School of Architecture, School of Business, School of Media, Culture & Design, and College of Liberal Arts, along with a Master of Business Administration, Master of Architecture, Master of Interior Architecture and Master of Science in Architecture. The San Diego campus offers Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture, Master of Interior Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture degrees, as well as a Master of Architecture degree with a concentration in Real Estate Development.  Visit for more information.

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December 2017
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