Basic Needs

 Basic Needs for Students

The economic burdens of professional and graduate education are significant for all students, and there may be times when it is difficult for students to access a sufficient quantity of nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

Since the launch of the UC Global Food Initiative in 2015, UCSF has taken strategic action to ensure students have access to a variety of resources to meet their basic needs. UCSF has established the Basic Needs for Students Program to develop and implement services and resources that address UCSF student food and housing insecurity. The Basic Needs program is supported by state funding.

Short-Term Solutions

Food Pantry

Visit the Food Pantry, an emergency food relief supply closet stocked with non-perishable foods and toiletries for students. Students may access The Pantry with their UCSF ID seven days a week (except on Thursdays during the Student Food Market from 3-6:30 p.m.) It is located outside the Student Success Center in Millberry Union 101w.

Student Food Market

Every Thursday, the Student Food Market offers a variety of fresh produce and other healthy staples, free of charge, to UCSF students. The Student Food Market is open to all current fee-paying students at Mission Bay and Parnassus.

Emergency Loan

Contact our office to apply for an emergency loan. Visit us at 500 Parnassus, Millberry Union, Rm 200 West, or call (415) 476–4181. The office is open Monday–Thursday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (except school holidays), and there is no need for an appointment.

Community Resources

The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank offers an emergency food program, which provides a three-day supply of food for people in crisis. Visit or call 2-1-1 for locations. This service is available to all San Francisco residents (with ID) one time in a 12-month period.

You can also find a current list of free food pantries and free meals offered around San Francisco at

Long-Term Solutions

Students who are experiencing food insecurity on a consistent basis are strongly encouraged to contact Student Financial Services for help in finding a sustainable solution, using financial planning, debt management, and budgeting support.

CalFresh Program (government funded food assistance program)

Some students are eligible to receive up to $281 per month through the CalFresh Program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the federal level. The program issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores.

Please review the following guides for eligibility details, step-by-step application guidance, and available resources:

If you still have questions regarding eligibility or assistance with Federal Work Study verification documents, please contact us.

Food 4 UCSF Students App

The Food 4 UCSF Students app can help you stretch your budget by alerting you when there is free food available on campus. The app sends a text message to your cell phone when there is food available after a catered event at UCSF. Students may drop by and pick up the food — free of charge — on a first-come, first-served basis, for a maximum of 30 minutes after an event.

Go to and follow the simple instructions there to sign up for alerts. (Be sure to use "https" before the URL, or the app may not work.) When you get an alert, just grab your own container and go get your free food.

Please note: If you have a food allergy or dietary restrictions, be very cautious about using this service. Food may not always be labeled, and we cannot guarantee the absence of any common allergens in the food offered.

Food 4 UCSF Students was launched in July 2017 and was first tested at the Parnassus campus. As more food providers sign up, notices will also go out to students about food availability at Mission Bay. The program may expand to other UCSF locations in future. Stay tuned!

If you are a UCSF event organizer, please be encouraged to register as a food provider.

Don't just eat, eat right!

San Francisco-Marin Food Bank

The Food Bank not only provides emergency assistance, as described above, but also weekly groceries and free food pantries in various neighborhoods in San Francisco and the Bay Area. To access these programs, call 2-1-1 or use the online food locator. Anyone who feels they need it will qualify for assistance from the Food Bank, and most of their programs require participants to provide only very basic information.