Microwaves and Water Refill Stations

Many students, staff, and faculty members bring pre-made meals to campus that require reheating, as well as carrying refillable water bottles. Home-cooked meals and tap water can be the most affordable, healthful, and environmentally-friendly options for eating while on campus. Accessible microwaves and refill stations (fountains that dispense filtered water) can therefore increase campus food equity. While staff, faculty, and graduate students are more likely to have access to departmental or research lab microwaves, undergraduate students are more dependent on publicly-available ones, of which there are only 16 on campus. There are approximately 100 water refill stations. Microwaves and refill stations are not equally distributed across campus, and many students do not know where they are located. Additionally, wealthier schools such as the Haas School of Business have far more sophisticated refill stations than less-resourced units. Currently there are not publicly available refrigerators for student use.

Microwave and Refill Stations

On-Campus Microwaves

Alleviates food insecurity and develops more economical food habits
Faster than buying and ordering food on or off-campus
Bringing your own food makes it easier to manage your diet

Have you used campus microwaves before?

Would you use them if they were more accessible?

16 total microwaves

Microwaves tend to be centered near Southside and Sather Lane, with several in Golden Bear Cafe and around MLK. A few can also be found in Soda Hall on North Campus.

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On-Campus Refill Stations

Some stations filter tap water, such as the refill and dispenser type
No need to refill at home or buy water elsewhere
Encourages reusable water bottles rather than disposable plastic ones

Several types of refill stations are found on campus, including:

Bottle Filler
Water Fountain

Out of the 98 total refill stations, what is the frequency of each type?

98 total refill stations

Refill stations are spread across campus with concentrations in Northeast regions while a shortage in Southwest campus.

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Policy Recommendations

Refill station data collection by: Jenica Bautista, Youree Choi, Isabella Chow, Anna Perhach, Noreen Truong, and Janet Xu.

Microwave station data collection by: KC Chung, Margaret Shi, Hannah Tong, and Lucy Yu.

Project advisor: Kim Guess.

Data visualization by: Shalandy Zhang.

Campus Kitchen Hubs

Efforts are underway to create decentralized food preparation hubs in high traffic student areas around campus. The Basic Needs Committee is collaborating with the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the Student Advocate’s Office, and the Graduate Assembly to implement food preparation stations funded through State Senate Bill 85 (SB85), which supports food security efforts in higher education. These stations would include a public refrigerator, microwave, and table for food preparation (ie. making a salad or sandwich). In some cases, these will be expanded to include a “satellite pantry” with free nonperishable items, produce, and prepared food for food insecure students. These locations will also be connected in the emerging campus-wide food recovery program to facilitate the safe recovery of edible food left-over from department events.

The intention with these stations is to increase food infrastructure across campus that can facilitate the ability of campus community members to bring prepared food to campus or to prepare simple meals on site. By adding recovered food and pantry items, these hubs aim to increase the accessibility of food insecurity resources to students by locating services in locations that students already frequent. The Basic Needs Committee is exploring multiple options for long-term maintenance, cleaning, and supervision of the hubs that include departmental commitment to financially sponsor food purchasing, dedicated paid student staff, and committed student advisor staff time. Dedicated student advisors and student staff would be trained in food safety and responsible for cleaning the hubs, ensuring that food safety protocols are maintained, and coordinating with the Basic Needs food recovery program and food pantry for sourcing.