Parent sparks win-win partnership with the ASUCD Pantry
By Cari DuBois-Wright, Associate Director of Development in Parent Giving
The holidays are a time of giving—and we thank UC Davis parents for finding creative ways to support students in need.
Consider the story of UC Davis parent Larry Jacobs, who took his longtime support of the ASUCD Pantry—a student-run organization providing food and hygiene items to hundreds of students each week—to the next level by creating a working partnership with Salesforce, where he worked as a software architect.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out earlier this year, Larry wanted to help the Pantry more effectively address growing food insecurity among students. I was able to introduce him (by Zoom) to Pantry Director Ryan Choi.
“We quickly found a great opportunity for everyone,” said Larry. “The Pantry needed an inventory management system. A group of computer science students, including my son Bryce, were looking for a summer internship for credit. I suggested an internship where the students would build an inventory management system for the Pantry on the free Salesforce account for nonprofits.”
To ensure a fruitful learning experience and a solid product, Larry gathered a team of volunteers at Salesforce—including alumni Michael Torres ‘05 and James Dai ’13—to coach the students.
The system launched in October and is helping the Pantry with organization, inventory, planning and purchasing—which all serves to more effectively provide food to students.
“This is an amazing system that helps us work more efficiently with our vendors and better serve our clients—and since we’ve grown by 300 percent in the past two years, we really needed it,” said Ryan. “This will be one of the first software systems used by UC campus food pantries to serve hundreds of students at this scale.”
Meanwhile, students continue to build upon the system. They’re working on a personalized ordering component that will allow students to order ahead of time, and only the products they use, thus eliminating both lines and food waste. And the team plans to package their programs and offer them to all UC and CSU campuses as well as other college pantries nationwide.
“I’m excited to see the students serve their community while demonstrating their problem-solving skills, analytical thinking and programming talent,” said Larry. “They were looking for summer internships, but this project gave them much more to impress future hiring managers. They may even have the beginnings of a startup company.”
Larry has more ideas for mutually beneficial student-business partnerships—many of them from the students themselves, who consistently impress him with their ingenuity and dedication.
“UC Davis already has great resources to help students get started turning their ideas into real products and services,” said Larry. “But when we parents and alumni bring our vast experience as coaches and mentors, we can add our unique perspective from our diverse experiences and give many students an unparalleled foundation upon which to launch their journeys. We have the opportunity to help launch careers, and we can start right now.”
I am more than happy to talk with you about your great ideas for student-business partnerships—and help connect you with staff or other resources across campus to help set your ideas in motion.
Connections can make a world of difference. And we hope to connect our students with businesses, corporations, and networks through you, our parents. Together, we can prepare our students for amazing job opportunities once they graduate.
For more information about how parent giving makes a difference in students’ lives, contact Cari DuBois-Wright, Associate Director of Development in Parent Giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-388-3605. You can visit our Parents Fund website here as well as learn more about our Family Fellows.
Learn more about the ASUCD Student Pantry at thepantry.ucdavis.edu.