UC Merced

UC Merced, County Fair Join Forces to Fight Hunger

UC Merced is partnering with the Merced County Fair to support Mercy Medical Center’s “We Care Wednesday” Community Food Drive.

Anyone can join the fight against hunger and gain free admittance to the fair by bringing five or more cans of food to the fair entrance gates between 5 and 7 p.m. on opening night, June 6. All donated food goes directly to the Merced County Food Bank to support the fight against hunger.

“The purpose of our food drive is to bring the community together — that’s participants, volunteers and partners — to build awareness of food insecurity in our region and help one another,” Merced County Fair CEO Teresa Burrola said. “Last year, we almost doubled our collection totals from the year prior. This year, we hope to collect 10,000 pounds as part of our food drive, but we need the community’s support and participation to achieve that goal.”

UC Merced joined the food drive effort in 2017 to help increase awareness about food insecurity, recruiting participants and raising food-donation totals, and those efforts paid off. More than 7,000 pounds of food came in during last year’s food drive — a 46.7 percent increase over 2016.

“Hunger in our community is experienced everywhere — by our students, our neighbors and the people we pass in our everyday lives,” said Vernette Doty, who supervises UC Merced’s Community Engagement Center and food security initiatives. “Getting our students, staff and faculty involved is another way UC Merced can help create positive change in our community, and we are happy to be a part of this important effort.”

A recent survey showed that 57 percent of UC Merced students have experienced low or very low food security.

According to the latest census data, 25.1 percent of Merced County residents and 35 percent of Merced city residents live in poverty. The Merced County Food Bank’s 2016 report shows the county’s overall food insecurity rate is 15.5 percent, which is higher than the state average of 13.9 percent.

“Unfortunately, the need for food assistance in our community continues to grow,” said Bill Gibbs, Merced County Food Bank executive director. “Partnerships and food drives like this one with the Merced County Fair and UC Merced are essential for us to continue to try and feed the growing need.”

Contact Vernette Doty at vdoty@ucmerced.edu for more information.

Young Artist Movement Making Room for More Art on Campus

Three enterprising Global Arts Studies Program students saw the empty UC Merced Art Gallery on campus and, worried the space would be reallocated, wondered why they couldn’t volunteer to run it.

So they started the Young Artist Movement — a “guerilla” group that expanded through word of mouth to 17, then bloomed to more than 50 members. YAM was a finalist for the Division of Student Affairs’ Best New Club or Organization award.

“You don’t have to be in the Global Arts Studies Program to be part of our group, you just have to love art of any kind — painting, writing, sculpture, digital, audio, video, whatever interests you,” YAM co-founder and President Kaelee Martinez said.

YAM met throughout the school year and held its first exhibition in the art gallery in March, complete with an opening reception, entitled “We Are YAM,” to introduce its members to the campus.

YAM partners with academic units and other groups on campus to host events such as the recent Fairy Shrimp Festival, and holds its own open-mic nights for musicians and poets, a photography exhibit and publishes zines, all on the shoestring budget assembled from the $5 annual fee paid by voting members. YAM also arranged a field trip to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, which the Associated Students at UC Merced helped fund.

Martinez, who hails from Denair, said the trip was important to the group because while there are opportunities for people to see a lot of local art in the Central Valley, some students have never had the chance to go to bigger exhibitions where professional and master artists’ works are displayed, and that kind of experience is important.

UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the campus’s Public Relations team. To contact the team, email PR@ucmerced.edu.