Students walk across Cal State Long Beach.
Student workers across the 23-campus California State University system have submitted an official petition to form a union.

California State University, Long Beach announced Wednesday that a $100,000 grant, awarded by the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office, will be used to fund a project titled “Best Practices Serving Displaced and Food Insecure Students at CSU.”

Led by Dr. Rashida Crutchfield, an assistant professor in CSULB’s School of Social Work, the one-year study will explore if and how all 23 CSU campuses identify and serve students experiencing food and housing instability.

“CSULB is committed to providing services and resources that support the success of all students,” CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said in a statement. “Those living with food or housing insecurity face additional challenges to reaching their educational goals, so it is imperative that we do all we can for this group.”

She continued to commend Dr. Crutchfield’s work, stating that it will help identify and properly serve this student population, while also offering information and recommendations critical to serving them.

A report will summarize each campus’ current services offered to homeless and food-insecure students and will include recommendations based on the accumulated data.

Crutchfield, who specializes in youth homelessness, said in a statement, “There are staff on campuses who serve these students because they know this student population exists, and faculty and other students want to help, but there is a need for systems to be put in place at universities across the nation to find them.”

Crutchfield served on the staff of Covenant House California, a Los Angeles-based shelter for homeless 18-to-24-year-olds, prior to joining CSULB faculty.

“Students who experience homelessness are invisible,” she said, and explained that they’re not required to identify themselves. She noted that the stigma attached to homelessness often deters students from seeking aid from those who could help them.

According to Crutchfield, over 47,000 students identified themselves nationally as homeless on their 2010 financial aid applications and added that the number is actually low, due to the fact that many students are unaware of the designation or are unwilling to designate themselves as homeless. Crutchfield added that students who experience food insecurity are largely undocumented, while persistent hunger is a deterrent to learning.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].