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Support Basic Needs for Chico State Students

Some 100 days ago, the most catastrophic fire in California history destroyed the lives, dreams and livelihood of thousands of our neighbors and friends.

One hundred and fifty-eight faculty and staff (158) and 376 students reported being directly impacted. One hundred and ninety-two students (192) lost their housing and most lost all of their property. People throughout the nation, overwhelming responded, providing immediate aid and emergency assistance.

The Recovery Continues...

Thanks to our network of community partners, generous donors and dedicated staff, we continue to respond to the expanding challenge of supporting students’ basic needs after the Camp Fire.

Since November, we have seen an ever-increasing demand for our services.

Our application for assistance caseload is up over 300%, as we work with students who are still struggling after the disaster and those who are experiencing trauma and financial stress, many for the first time.

Thanks to you and the direct support of our wonderful food bank partners, volunteers, farmers and community donors we have increased our food inventory more than 40% to serve an average of 200 students a day with high-quality shelf-stable foods, farm fresh produce, nutritious meals and basic need referrals.

Together, we continue to help our students secure emergency and transitional housing through our campus and housing partnerships and continue to provide and increasing level of direct aid through employment, benefits assistance and emergency grants.

We Are Not Done...

With renewed community strength, we continue what we started back in 2013, which is to ensure that all Chico State students have the ability to secure their basic needs, so they can pursue their academic dreams, graduate and become the future leaders of our Giving Community.

Thank you for your ongoing support.


Chico State Basic Needs

Help Us Meet Students’ Basic Needs

Chico Cares is an annual fundraising campaign for the Chico State Basic Needs Project, which provides nutritious food, short-term emergency housing, and emergency grants for students experiencing significant financial stress and poverty.


Through your generous support we have been able to expand and improve our basic needs services, making a positive difference for thousands of Chico State students.

Thanks to you, since July we have:

Served more than 5,000 students, supporting an average of 200 pantry visits per day.

Distributed more than 35 tons of healthy food, an equivalent of 58,000 meals.

Expanded our food supplies by 40% through our food bank partners and community agencies, and improved our wholesale purchasing channels through the Associated Students and local grocers.

Increased our provision of high quality, sustainably grown organic produce through the University Farm’s Organic Vegetable Project and several other local farmers and growers. 

Supported more than 1,500 students in their quest to receive CalFresh USDA SNAP food assistance with direct application assistance.

Assisted dozens of students with off-campus housing support and placed more than 25 displaced or homeless students in emergency and transitional housing through University Housing and community partnerships.

Through the Wildcats Rise disaster campaign, the University provided more than $437,000 in one-time, immediate disaster assistance to 376 students who were directly impacted or displaced by the fire.

In cooperation with the Chico Breakfast Lions, provided free eye screenings and assisted 25 students who lacked appropriate insurance with free eye exams and prescription glasses.

Increased our student employment and internship opportunities, and improved our basic needs services and referrals through partnership with the School of Social Work internship program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many Chico State students experience food insecurity?

A 2018 California State University research study indicates that 8,000 students (50 percent) suffer from low to very low food security. The USDA defines food insecurity as having problems or anxiety about consistently accessing adequate food, with impacts to the quality, variety, and desirability of a diet and the potential for disrupted eating patterns or reduced food intake. 

Q: How big is the problem of student housing displacement and homelessness?

Through the 2018 research study, the California State University estimated that 500 Chico State students will find themselves displaced or homeless during the academic year. The housing challenge has increased significantly since the disaster, as the local housing market has not been able to keep up with demand, increasing the rents and financial stress throughout the community.

Q: Where do my donations go when I contribute?

Your gift will go directly toward the provision and distribution of nutritious food, short-term emergency housing, and emergency grants for students experiencing significant financial stress and poverty.

Q: Why is the Chico Cares Campaign so important?

While the heart of Chico State’s mission is to educate and serve tomorrow’s leaders, poor nutrition and stress from unmet basic needs are proven to hinder these goals. If we continue to work together as a community, we can help address these challenges and provide a supportive environment that ensures the success of our students in need.

Q: How do I refer a student in need?

If you know a student who can use our services, please refer them to the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry in the Student Services Center, Room 196 or call 530-898-4099.

Q: I am a Chico State faculty or staff member; can I contribute through a payroll deduction?

Yes, you can join your colleagues by completing the University's Payroll Deduction Authorization Form. You can choose to apply your gift to either or both of the following funds.

Chico Cares Annual Fund #06824, which supports the immediate operating costs of the Basic Needs Project

Chico Cares Endowment #18006, which invests in the long-term needs of the Basic Needs Project. Your gift will be added to the endowed fund and invested. A portion is then used to help future students in need.   

You can also learn more about the various ways to give at

Q: How can I learn more about getting involved in the Chico State Basic Needs Project? 

Contact Joe Picard at 530-898-4099 to learn more about how to support the Chico State Basic Needs Project.

California State University, Chico
Basic Needs Project
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929-0125

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