Welcome to the F+S+S blog! This blog is a space where basic needs student leaders share what they are learning and doing in the context of food and housing. Our content ranges from topics like saving money on textbooks, making food last longer, growing vegetables, and self-care routines. As college students, we understand the struggles of food and housing insecurity, and we are here to help empower our SFSU family to achieve success with practices that can be applied to everyday life!
Meet the Authors
Hello, I’m Elia Azazel! I am a Child & Adolescence Development major and one of the F+S+S assistants! I am a consumer of many types of media such as video games, comics, tv shows, podcasts, films, and anything horror. Some of my favorite things are Batman V Superman (the director’s cut of course) and The Magnus Archives podcast.
Yazmin Hernandez Luna
Ciao! I'm Yazmin Hernandez Luna, born and raised in Los Angeles California, and a first-generation college student whose major is in Public Health. I am a very introverted person but, once I get comfortable, the goofy side and very sarcastic me come to life. When I am not in school, I love to do activities like painting, reading books, learning a new language, and participating in outdoor activities. At a young age, I was always taught that I should always lend a helping hand to others and this lesson motivated me into creating beautiful and informational content that may inspire and help other SFSU students in achieving their goals.
Hey! I’m KC Agramon. I’m a junior, majoring in Public Health. I’m an adventurer; I love exploring the city as well as finding parks in SF to have picnics in or read books at. I love running before the sun comes out in the morning to start off my day. I think the best way to end my day is to watch the sunset or to go biking before the sun comes down!
Hi! I'm Isis Fields. I am a fourth-year public health student. I enjoy riding my bike and exploring all over the Bay Area. I appreciate attending art conventions and events of all kinds. A few of my favorite ways to express myself are through painting and dancing. I am constantly inspired by Frida Kahlo and samba, bossa nova music. I'm motivated to grow and learn with others through shared experiences and use that to shape my community-oriented career. I look forward to expanding my academic limits and meeting people from different backgrounds.
Author: Isis Fields
Hey there fellow college students! Here at Food+Shelter+Success, we are so proud of you for taking the initiative towards higher education. We recognize you are at SF State making a difference while benefiting your future, life, and career. Keep up the hard work and check out these study skill life hacks to help maximize your academic skills!
What's your learning style?
School can be challenging; exploring more about how you learn can empower you to be your best student self. Part of improving your academic experience is understanding your preferred learning style. Several learning styles influence the way students retain knowledge. A common learning model is “VARK” which stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Knowing how you most effectively learn can help guide your study habits, teacher choices, and which programs and tutors could be of assistance to you. Finding opportunities to connect with other students that have similar study style can help you excel, and working with someone who learns differently can help challenge you to grow.
Studying smarter, not harder, can help avoid burnout. Once you explore which VARK learning styles work best for you, engage with some study practice! Reflect on your school, work, and test results to create study goals for yourself, integrating useful VARK strategies. Tip: Don’t forget to consider your time, deadlines, and group cooperation.
Create Your Space
Improve your study experience by trying these best practices:
- Allocate a set time, dedicated to only doing your schoolwork.
- Create an environment that best helps motivate you.
- Consider putting on some classical music or sounds of rain to keep you calm and focused.
- Before getting into anything serious allow yourself to transition into a mind-frame. I encourage you to engage in a five to ten-minute meditation to minimize anxiety and to increase calmness.
- Mindfulness is the name of the game, it is a self-assessment of the mind and the body working together. Being aware of how your physical needs are important to stay on track with the flow of work.
- A simple walk around the block can be great to reintegrate your mind with your body to listen to its needs.
- Eating healthy foods is necessary to fuel your body to take great action.
Fuel Your Mind
Your experience as a student is influenced by many factors, both challenging and helpful. We recognize that the basic need of having access to food impacts overall performance of work and daily life. Our desire is to best support you where you are. Food+Shelter+Success provides the opportunity to benefit from the three food programs; CalFresh Help Clinic, Associated Students Gator Groceries, and Emergency Meals. CalFresh Help Clinic may provide students with funds to buy groceries every month, while direct access to foods is available through the other programs. Please take advantage of these services, as they are meant to keep you sufficient as a developing student!
Author: Isis Fields
Appetites and periods, it’s bloody brilliant that food and the menstrual cycle are related! Sometimes you may feel more satisfied after eating a piece of cake rather than an apple, and indulging is absolutely ok! It’s normal to experience cravings, sometimes it can mean we are experiencing nutrient deficiencies, or sometimes it's just that time of the month. Let’s dive in and talk menstrual cycles.
What is Menstruation?
The menstrual cycle includes hormonal changes that a person with an uterus experiences each month. Menstruation, or having your period, is when blood and tissues shed from the uterus and exit the body via the vagina. The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of someone’s last period up to the first day of their next period. The outer lining of the uterus begins to regenerate within 21-35 days. Hormone levels change throughout the cycle that can cause menstrual symptoms including mood changes, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue and physical discomfort for some folks including bloating, headaches cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. These symptoms are common and for some, it’s possible to manage the severity of these experiences through mindfulness and food.
Did you Know…
Some cultures believe that the moon can influence a person's menstrual cycle?
The Benefits of Food
Overall healthy eating can promote wellness and when it comes to relief from menstrual symptoms, certain foods can offer benefits. To help decrease bloating and fluid build-up skip the salt and sodium! Try to limit caffeine and alcohol, they can impact mood and sleep. Foods high in fiber such as grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables can help limit reabsorption of excess estrogen and increase estrogen excretion. Overall, try to choose foods that provide calcium, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, almonds, kale, beans or fortified foods, such as soymilk and tofu. Additionally prioritize vitamin B6, which can be found in pistachios, turkey, garbanzo beans, bananas, potatoes and fortified cereals. Lastly don’t forget about physical activity! Staying active can help with fluid status and improve mood.
Keep a Moon Journal
In my personal experience, I have benefited from keeping a “Moon Journal”. This has helped me to keep track of my period cycle so I can have an idea of when my premenstrual cycle will be. Keeping a journal can not only help you stay up to date with the days of your period, but also of the foods that feel good for your body. I would recommend that you write your diet and symptoms during your PMS and menstrual cycle. Focus on how you feel and how much you ate. Allow for you to be honest with yourself as you are figuring out your needs. This can be beneficial towards understanding if personal experiences are related to the direct foods that are consumed. As time progresses, you’ll be able to create a diet that is unique to your wellbeing.
Don’t Break the Bank
Paying for menstrual supplies every month can be a financial burden and as students, it is important to be budget friendly. The good news is, Health Promotion and Wellness provides FREE tampons and pads to students. Students can pick up kits with tampons and pads at the HPW office on select days or from AS Gator Groceries weekly for more information visit the HPW website.
Author: KC Agramon
Let’s talk about Food+Shelter+Success (FFS). This is a program that is accessible to students who are currently enrolled at San Francisco State University (SFSU). We help students who are currently facing food and housing insecurity. Now, as students, we have this stigma that these resources should be used for those who are “really” struggling. We start to question if we’re taking away from other students who truly needs the extra help. However, this issue is far from the truth. As students, we pay tuition for classes and the resources offered by the institution. This includes AS Gator Groceries, CalFresh Help Clinic, Basic Needs Emergency Funds and etc.
An example of this issue was when a friend of mine was hesitant to sign up for CalFresh. She worked outside of school, a full-time student, and needed help paying for groceries. CalFresh is a government program where depending on your income and living situation you could get up to $204 free money for groceries. Now when I asked her what’s stopping her from signing up for the program, she said that she thought the program was for people who “really” needed it. Then, I added to the conversation that the program actually decides if you are qualified or not. So
, if you are qualified, you’ll get some money from the government based on your financial situation. And if you are not approved, at least , you tried and knew that you weren’t able to qualify.
Now if you don’t qualify for this program, SF State has other programs that could help you with getting fresh produce. AS Gator Groceries for example is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am to 1 pm. All you have to do is sign a health badge beforehand regarding COVID precautions and you’re all set to go to the Cezar Chavez building on campus to pick up a box of fresh produce!
Lastly, if you are facing a financial crisis and in need of extra cash for food, rent, or any other financial responsibilities you may have, you could use the Basic Needs Emergency Fund. This is a one-time fund given by the Basic Needs department depending on your current situation. All you have to do is sign up and answer a few of these questions.
There are so many more resources FFS offers! All you have to do is reach out and ask questions. No matter what your situation is, we are here to listen and help. There is no harm in seeing if you qualify for these programs. So I say DO IT and see if you do! Learn more about campus resources!
Author: Elia Azazel Wee
A quick google search on what can help you save money on your housing expenses will give you answers that ask a lot of time, effort, and money for you to do it. Although those methods do help you save energy and money, this blog post is a compilation of advice that only requires you to alter your behaviors and methods for tasks we already do on a weekly basis.
Unplug When Not In Use
You might have already heard of this one before and hopefully, this blog post can be the one to encourage you to make this part of your daily routine! Unplugging is the easiest method for saving money. One thing that always me unmotivated to do this was that I didn't want to unplug everything in my house, but unplugging when you can and for the devices that take up a lot of power still helps a lot!
Some electronic devices continuously use a lot of power even when you turn them “off”, and they usually have a light or display that shows that they are on standby. Some examples of these devices are computers, printers and scanners, video game devices, and devices with a remote control.
Unplugging other devices saves energy, but requires a lot of unplugging and re-plugging. Power strips are an easy way to avoid this hassle because when you turn off the power strip, the devices are actually off and not using power.
Change How You Do Laundry
When you wash your clothes in hot water, it requires a lot of energy to heat up the water. As an alternative, you can wash your clothes in cold or warm water! Before I started washing my clothes on the cold water setting I was really hesitant and worried, but modern washing machines are designed to effectively use cold water to remove stains, and they even make cold water detergents!
However, there are times when it is better to use warm or hot water such as washing things to prevent germs (like if someone is sick), during the winter when the water temperature is too low, or when fabrics are specifically marked on the tag for warm or hot water.
Similar to the washing machine, use a lower heat setting when trying to save money and energy. You can also hang dry clothes! I hang dry clothes outside in the sun, on the bar for my shower curtain, or the bar for my window curtains! Lastly, cleaning the lint filter and the dryer’s vent will increase the dryer’s air circulation, help your load dry faster, and prevent any mechanical issues. Frugally Blonde shows how to properly clean your dryer vents with a vacuum and lint remover!
Alter Your Fridge Temperature
One time my almond milk froze in the fridge! Looking at the temperature your fridge is set to and set it to the proper temperature will help you save money year-round! The fresh food area of your fridge can be set to 36-40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer 0 to –5 degrees Fahrenheit. For more information on fridge temperature, you can read the FDA’s page on food storage safety.
Use Your Dishwasher
Personally, I always thought dishwashers wasted a lot of energy, but they can actually save money and water if used properly. Make sure you pack your dishwasher with as many items that can fit in that way you don’t use the dishwasher too often.
Air dry your dishes instead of using the heat dry feature on your dishwasher. As mentioned earlier, it takes a lot of energy to heat things up so air drying is a better alternative.
Did you know that you can also save money by running the dishwasher after 7 PM to avoid using energy during peak hours when there is a high demand for energy? I did not know this was a thing! And this applies to using the dryer and washing machine too!
Let frozen food thaw on your countertop for 1-2 hours before cooking, or place it in the fridge to thaw overnight! But do not refreeze any food that has been left outside of the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours! Giving your food time to thaw before cooking means that you will need less time and less energy to heat up the food! I actually wrote another Basic Needs Blogpost solely on Freezing Food that you can read afterward!
Use lids when you’re cooking! Honestly, I never use my lids, but now I’ve been convinced to utilize them. Lids keep the heat inside the pot/pan which will reduce the amount of energy and time you spend cooking!
Unblock Heating/Cooling Vents
The last tip is a quick one. When furniture blocks your heating/cooling vents, you block the air from circulating, and your heating/cooling system will actually use more energy in an attempt to change the temperature of that area. So not only is that area not being heated/cooled down, but it’s using a lot of energy and money.
I hope this blogpost helps you find more ways to conserve energy and save you money! Other ways to save money is by using some of the free student resources we have here at Basic Needs! Find out how you can get free food, housing assistance, and economic support such as The Basic Needs Emergency Funds, and check out the Basic Needs website!
For more ways to reduce your electric bill, check out these articles:
Author: KC Agramon
With midterms coming up, everyone has become more and more stressed. Being a student is a lot but at the end of the day, we still have to take care of ourselves, our payments, and a bunch of other things that add stress to our mind and body. As a student I worry about my grades, paying my bills on time, getting to work, and having time for myself. With that said, I have very little time to look for resources that can help ease my stress.
As a SF State student, there are a bunch of resources given to us to use. However, since we have such busy lives, we forget to utilize these resources simply because we either don't have time or we don't really know about them. As a student, we pay tuition every semester but what we don't do is make the most out of the tuition that we pay for.
If you're stressed, I recommend using the Counseling & Psychological Services, also known as CAPS, to talk about whatever it is that you may be struggling with as a student. Since you’re a student, you have the right to use this resource. Midterms can be stressful and talking to someone about how hard it is could help you learn how to deal with this.
If you're struggling to buy food because you are either busy working or studying, you should check out AS Gator Groceries. This program is run by the Associated Students and they provide fresh produce, and food every week Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am- 1 pm on campus. For me having to work almost every day and studying at night it leaves me no time to go grocery shopping for myself. However, using the resources SF State has to offer helped ease a little bit of that stress, both mentally and financially.
Being a student can be difficult. We have a lot of responsibilities to take care of and sometimes we forget that there are programs that are willing to help us. We pay so much for tuition and yet we forget to use the things offered to us simply because we don't know about them. I would like to remind students that resources, such as CAPS and AS Gator Groceries, are just one of the few resources students can use simply because they pay tuition and attend classes. Learn more about campus resources.
Author: Elia Azazel Wee
I’ve had two sets of roommates in my life; one group was really difficult for me to communicate with and we engaged in constant passive aggressiveness, and the other I was more comfortable bringing up issues I had around the house. So what was different? Why was it easier for me to be honest and engage in conflict resolution with this set of roommates?
Having a good relationship with your roommates is important to your mental and physical health and the overall functionality of the household. There is a lot of roommate advice out there, but in this blog post, I highlight what I’ve learned and things I am still working on.
Healthy communication is essential when you have roommates, which seems like it should be “common sense” and yet is difficult to actually do. I often found myself passive aggressively trying to hint at problems or making snide comments instead of actually addressing the problem. Additionally, I was too afraid to confront issues privately with them. This was mentally tiring, and in the end, did not make any changes around the household. I’ve learned to remind myself that (1) they cannot read my mind and will not know if something is wrong if I do not clearly communicate that to them; and (2) they live in the same home as me so they will naturally want a happy, functioning home environment too.
Having House Meetings may seem too formal at first, but they’re just casual conversations and check-ins with each other. There are different ways to hold house meetings: designate it to be a specific day of each month, tell everyone you want to hold a meeting when something comes up, or whatever the preference is for you and your household.
In these house meetings, I suggest writing a contract, discussing everyone’s boundaries, and making a chore list. Contracts typically include house rules such as:
- When can we start being loud in the mornings?
- What items can everyone use? What items do we need to ask permission to use?
- How long and how often can we have guests over?
- Let everyone know when you plan on using the bathroom for a long time
It is important to make that contract written digitally or on paper so that no one forgets what they agreed to.
Boundaries are important to establish in any relationship you have. And sometimes boundaries change over time, and it’s okay to bring it up in a later conversation with your housemates. For example, let your housemates know the best way to communicate with you, when you need your space and alone time, and if there are any words or behaviors that make you uncomfortable.
A chore list is truly the best thing to ever happen to me. I am less stressed about when the trash is being thrown out or feeling like I’m the only one cleaning. We discussed what chores we thought were necessary and how often each needs to be done. Then everyone chose which chore they preferred. Chore lists work best if you keep each other accountable. If one of my housemates forgot to do their chores or the dirt is beginning to pile up, we kindly remind them through their preferred method. Some want a text message, some want a sticky note, and some want a verbal reminder.
When you want to bring up something in a house meeting or in a private conversation use “I” statements. By doing this you are expressing how you feel instead of putting blame on your housemate. For example, in one house meeting, I’ve told my housemates “I feel really frustrated by the amount of dirty dishes we have because even though I wash dishes, sometimes there aren’t any clean ones for me to use. I’d really like to talk about this and come up with some solutions together.” The solution we agreed upon: the sink can only be ¾ filled with dishes and to text a reminder in the group chat.
That was a lot of information but here are the key takeaway points:
- Speak in “I” statements
- Write a Contract
- Have House Meetings
- Chore List + Accountability
- Be Clear, Honest and Solution Oriented
If you’re currently unhoused or at risk for losing your housing, check out our housing resource PATHS. Providing Assistance to Housing Solutions (PATHS) will help you towards stable housing by giving you assistance, guidance, and support. Additionally, there are multiple ways for getting free food and economic support such as The Basic Needs Emergency Funds.
More in depth advice about communicating with your housemates can be found here:
Author: KC Agramon
What is CalFresh?
CalFresh is a nutrition program funded by the USDA. It’s a program that gives qualified applicants FREE money for groceries. The money is loaded monthly on an EBT debit card and you don't have to pay it back! Some things you can buy with your EBT card are fruits, bread, cereals, frozen means, and other fresh produce. However, there are things you aren’t able to buy with your CalFresh dollars including which is beer, cigarettes, vitamins, hot and prepared foods, and any non-food items.
How do I apply for CalFresh?
The application process for CalFresh is easy! If you feel comfortable you can apply on your own. If you need assistance, make an appointment with CalFresh Help Clinic. For the application, you will submit documents such as identification, living expenses, income, proof of student status, and proof of a student exemption. After you submit your application you will receive a phone interview from CalFresh and someone from that department will ask you a few follow-up questions. If your application is approved, you will receive and activate your EBT card!
Am I eligible for CalFresh?
To be eligible you must:
- Have U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, U/T Visa, or refugee status.
- Make $0-$2128 per month for a household of 1.
- If you are younger than 22 and live with your parents, you’ll need to apply with your family. However, if you are 18 and over and do not live with family; you can apply on your own and as a household of one!
- Meet a student exemption. Some student exemptions included being enrolled in EOP, GSP, approved for work study, EFC of $0 on FASFA, TANF Cal Grant A or B, Work 20+ hours/ week on average, or have a child under 12. You only have to meet one exemption!
What should I do if I am not CalFresh eligible or need food right now?
If you are in need of food, I urge you to use the free food recourses we have at SF State!
- You can go to Gator Groceries and pick up a free box of groceries each week! This semester (Spring 2021), it is located at SF State in Cesar Chavez Building on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 am to 1 pm.
- You can also sign up for an Emergency Meal Card; with this, you can sign up for up to 2 cards throughout the semester with 10 free meals on them. You can get the meals at City Eats Dining Hall.
- Lastly, if you are in financial need/crisis, unable to buy food, pay your bills, or other basic necessities. You can sign up for Basic Needs Emergency Funds.
I encourage everyone to apply for CalFresh; who knows you may get approved and that’s free grocery money each month! I hope this blog helped answer some questions you have about CalFresh and the resources SF State has to offer!
Author: Elia Azazel Wee
Our phones and laptops are some of the most valuable devices we own. We use it for our work life, social life, personal life, and more! That being said, it’s important that we take care of them so that they last as long as possible and without any need of expensive repairs. And as someone who has replaced their phone battery twice and paid for multiple repairs, this is something I personally want to work on.
Below are some suggestions for maintaining your laptop and phone battery life.
SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR LAPTOP
Keep your laptop in room temperatures to avoid burning up the internal hardware.
Elevate your laptop on a cooling pad or use it on a flat surface to avoid blocking the built in ventilation system that keeps your laptop from overheating.
Hold your laptop with two hands on each side or with one hand in the center (but be careful in case you lose your balance and drop it). Do not hold the laptop with one hand on the edge, and especially do not hold it by the laptop screen.
Use a microfiber cloth to clean the screen and keys while your laptop is off.
Wash your hands before using the laptop to minimize the dirt and oil that gets on it.
Don’t overcharge your laptop! When it is finished charging unplug it. Using your laptop while it’s charging is ok, but constantly doing it will build up and harm the battery life!
Don’t eat and drink near your laptop. (Honestly, I am guilty of doing this, but I make sure to avoid eating food that leaves behind a lot of crumbs)
Shut down your laptop as frequently as you can instead of putting it to sleep.
SF State understands how vital having an electronic device is for students so if you find yourself in need of a laptop, there is a resource available for you! Whether it be because you do not have a laptop or your current laptop is in need of repairs, you can rent a laptop for free from the SFSU Library and have it shipped directly to you!
SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE
Keep your phone at room temperature. Heat damages the battery permanently. If you notice your phone heating up while using it, when it’s charging, or because of the temperature, give it a break and turn it off.
Avoid putting it in confined spaces that attract heat such as underneath your pillow or in your jeans pocket.
Only charge when you need to. It’s recommended to stop charging at 80%. Our phones actually go into a “trickle mode” after it reaches 80% to reduce the stress being put onto the battery. This means charging overnight can be particularly harmful.
Don’t let the battery go below 20%.
Avoid constantly using wireless, fast charging pads because they run hot and wear down the battery and other components in the phone. Occasional quick charges during your work break is alright, but for long periods of time like an overnight charge puts a lot of stress on your phone.
If you have a phone case, take it out and clean it with a microfiber cloth often.
Use touch screen buttons to turn on/off your phone and change the volume instead of the physical buttons on the side of the phone. The Assistive Touch is a feature that lets you do that; activation and customization of Assistive Touch can be found in your settings.
Even knowing this information, I still lay my laptop on my bedsheets and charge my phone overnight, but it’s still really helpful that I follow these maintenance suggestions as often as I can. When my phone is at 70% before I sleep and I know I do not need 100% battery for tomorrow, I turn it off and let it take a break. Practicing these maintenance suggestions when I can puts me in the habit of doing it more.
If you’re experiencing a situation where you have to choose between paying for rent, food, and other expenses there are some resources available to you that can help lift those worries off your shoulders! There are multiple ways for getting free food, housing assistance, and economic support such as The Basic Needs Emergency Funds. You can find more resources and information about Basic Needs here.
Read more about maintenance for your laptop and phone from these articles!
Author: Yazmin Hernandez Luna
When was the last time you paid attention to your breathing and gave your body the chance to relax? Many of us may be unable to recall because it is easy to ignore our needs and forget to practice simple acts of self-care like breathing. When we stress about certain events happening in our lives, we can forget to live in the present moment.
As a first-generation college student at SFSU, I’ve had my fair share of struggles and uncertainty, many surrounding food and housing insecurity. The stress of constantly thinking about my next meal and/or if I will have enough to pay next month’s rent has been overwhelming and has affected my schoolwork at times. When I am feeling stressed or uncertain, one thing that has really helped ground has been meditating. Meditating can help center you and reduce stress, which is important for college students. Research has demonstrated that academic-related stress can decrease motivation, increase the risk of dropout, and the risk of mental health challenges. Now I am not saying that meditating will be the solution to all our problems, but it is simple, easy, and can work towards positive health outcomes and academic success. Not sure if meditation is for you? Check out the benefits and give this super easy meditation a try this week!
Benefits of Meditation
A simple 5-minute meditation every day can help ease your mind and body. The benefits of meditation consist of:
- Reduces stress levels, anxiety, depression, lower blood pressure, and cortisol levels
- Helps you learn to live in the moment in training the brain to stop focusing on past traumas/future stresses
- Helps sharpen the mind as we age
- Strengthens the neural circuits that we use the most, pruning away the least used connections
- Can improve memory, self-awareness, and goal setting
- Helps with sleep
- Hypo Metabolic State allows the body to rejuvenate
Anyone can do mediation! Give this 5-minute meditation a try this week! Here are a few tips:
- Meditation can be challenging at first but practice makes perfect! Practice frequently to build-up endurance and confidence
- Find a comfortable position [Sitting down on a chair or laying on the floor/bed]
- Begin by taking slower and deeper breaths; Inhale through your nose & hold for a few seconds then exhale through your mouth and hold for a few seconds and keep repeating
- Tune into your body and notice any feeling of tension or tightness and allow your body to relax in those parts
- Does your mind wander? That’s ok and common. Try bringing your attention to the body by picturing one thing that made your smile or thankful today & rest at that moment
- Smile if you want, allow it!
- When you are ready, come back to your awareness on your own time and open your eyes
- Lastly, enjoy the rest of your day!
Meditation is the time to connect with oneself. Be patient, be kind, and don’t forget to live in the present moment!
Author: Elia Azazel
The idea of growing vegetables in my apartment sounds healthy and cost-effective. Sometimes I only get 4-5 vegetables at the store but it can add up to $15.00-20.00 all together! By growing vegetables, I could save myself trips to the grocery store and money while learning to incorporate vegetables into my daily meals. But I already struggle to keep my succulents alive so I often felt too discouraged to try. I was shocked to find out from my housemate that you can easily grow vegetables on your patio or by a window! For this blog post, I’ve asked my housemate (and the internet) some questions and tips on keeping your plants alive!
E (me): “What vegetables are best for beginners?”
L (my housemate): “Beans grow super fast! I started off with sugar daddy snap peas. Squash is easy to grow for beginners, and so is any herb like thyme, sage, and basil. If they’re outdoor and on your patio make sure they have direct sunlight. If they’re by a window, don’t put it directly in front of the window but near it so that the sun and heat don’t dry up the plant.”
If you’re like me and don’t really eat herbs, you might not see the appeal of growing them because you have no idea how to use them when you cook. After some reading, I found out that herbs are nutritious and perfect for adding flavor! You can easily add them to any meal. For example, I like to add thyme and basil onto my frozen pizzas, and my housemate likes to add them to their soup.
E: “Any tips on watering? I had a lot of trouble with watering in general.”
L: “Water weekly for both indoor and outdoor. Listen to your plant. If you’re overwatering the tips of the leaves turn yellow and if they’re underwatered the leaves start to droop and look sad. And on really hot days give them a little extra water to drink.
I follow the finger rule. Stick the top-notch of your finger into the dirt and if it’s still wet, don’t water it. If you do overwater, give them time to dry out. But don’t wait too long because they still need to be watered.”
E: “Is there any difference between growing a starter plant or starting from seeds?”
L: “Starting with seeds is much cheaper like $1.00-4.00 (which you can buy with CalFresh!). It’s intimidating, but it isn’t as difficult as it sounds. If you’re planting with seeds, know that seeds need more water. They need to be moist more often, and make sure they have direct sunlight.”
Make sure to get pots that are big enough for the plant to grow into. You can buy pots for ~$1.00 a pot at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, or any store with a home improvement section. When buying a pot, a good rule is to match the space of its height with root space or replant if it’s growing too big. A common beginner mistake is getting pots that are too small.
You can start seeds in solo cups with holes in the bottom and then replant them into pots.
Pay attention to the plant, look at photos of what it’s going to look like so you know what to expect and you don’t harvest too late.
I do not like eating vegetables, but I’ve noticed that there’s something about growing your own that makes me more inclined to eat them. I’ve certainly become used to eating vegetables a little more than before, whether it’s adding spinach to my sandwich or adding squash to my pasta. Growing my own vegetables gives me a sense of fulfillment and saves me some money!
While waiting for your vegetables to grow, why not check out the resources Food+Shelter+Success has to offer that can get you free food! We have Emergency Meal Cards, CalFresh help clinics, Gator Groceries, and more.
Author: KC Agramon
Sitting behind a desk for more than 2 hours can be exhausting. Zoom fatigue is real, and sometimes all you need is fresh air and great scenery to gain that momentum of doing your schoolwork. Before COVID, I did most of my homework at the library. Now that, that isn’t an option I had to find creative ways to get my homework done. Having access to WiFi is a basic need that every student should have. Without WiFi, it can be harder to access assignments and take zoom calls.
Finding the right place to do homework could be challenging, and for students who are experiencing housing insecurity, it can feel impossible. When COVID started, I created a workspace near my window where I feel like I could get most of my work done. This worked for a few weeks, but suddenly I found myself sitting behind my desk all day. Self-care is important to me and I decided to listen to how I felt; I knew there has to be a better way! Because of this, I had to find other ways. For me, getting my work done outside my home was self-care, for students who are living in their vehicles or couch-surfing it can be the only option. Here are some life hacks on how to access free WiFi around SF; while keeping the social distance guidelines.
San Francisco has free wireless internet access for everyone. WiFi services vary depending on selected areas and parks throughout San Francisco. When you want to connect to the WiFi network all you need to click on the “#SFWiFi” and further instructions will be given. Locations that provide Free Wi-Fi varies around the city. Some places that I go and do my homework at are the Marina green, Mission Dolores Park, Hamilton rec center, etc. Another option for students who do not have a stable and safe place to engage with their schoolwork online is to book a room reservation at the SFSU library.
Now, here are some guides on how to use public WIFI in a safe and secure way. So, what does secured, and unsecured networks mean? Open network lets you log on without authentication details. This means all you have to do is click connect; I advise you to refrain from this option or use it for a short time. The other WiFi network requires you to enter information such as phone numbers or email addresses. An example of this could be a needed username and password before getting WiFi access.
Here are some ways to be safe while using public WiFi:
- Stay away from using internet banking, online shopping, or anything involves financial data.
- Stay in secure websites
- Use VPN
- Make sure your firewall is on and updated
Finding creative ways to do homework can be difficult. Remember to listen to yourself and take breaks when you need to. Looking for WiFi access can be hard; I hope this blog gave you options for a new space to do homework or a new place to take a break. Keep in mind that you should still be cautious while using secure or insecure WiFi!
Author: Yazmin Hernandez Luna
As students, we are always trying to be cautious of our budget which can make the cost of buying healthy food unsettling. Paying our bills is expensive and sometimes it can feel like spending money to eat healthier isn’t an option. I’ve had my fair share of eating unhealthy foods for a long period of time before learning what foods are healthy and fit my budget. When I first began eating healthy, I had no idea of which foods fit my budget and were nutritious for my body. In this blog, I want to help other students by sharing my top five budget-friendly foods that helped me in my journey!
- Oatmeal - Provides health-supporting benefits such as fiber that supports heart and gut health and can help you feel full and satisfied for longer. Tip: For tastier oatmeal, I include strawberries, bananas, and blueberries with a hint of Peanut Butter.
- Eggs - Are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D! They are a quick and easy way to add protein to meals. Tip: A dozen count is cheaper at Target! Add egg to avocado toast.
- Lentils - Is a plant-based source of protein, containing fiber that supports a healthy gut. Tip: When lentils are boiling, crack an egg and cook until served.
- Brown Rice - A few cents expensive than white rice, but it is very healthy. It contains more fiber than white rice and can help you stay fuller over a long period of time.
- Chicken - Consuming chicken is beneficial because it is rich in protein and good for the heart! It is a source of lean protein for those who choose to consume meat. I like to add paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper for seasoning. Tip: Chicken Breast is cheaper at Target ($8-10) compared to Safeway ($15 & higher).
Being a student is expensive but these are a great start to eating healthy meals. Making new changes takes time to adapt, but if you stick with it these changes can benefit your wellbeing.
To learn more about how to stretch your food dollars, Check out the Food + Shelter + Success Affordable Grocery Stores List and Calfresh, a program that gives qualified applicants free money for food. To learn more about healthy eating on a budget and other cooking and nutrition services explore the HPW Nutrition Health Education programs.
https://www.eatright.org/ [Oatmeal, Lentils]
https://www.todaysdietitian.com/ [Brown Rice, Eggs, Chicken]
Author: Elia Azazel
As I grow older, I learn more and more tips and tricks about buying, storing, and cooking food. My freezer used to be very empty, but I’ve become more aware of how useful my freezer can be for storing food because it saves me time, food, and money. Before my fresh produce starts to go bad, I can save it by putting it in the fridge! This lets me make the most out of the money I spend on food. This blogpost is a list of ways you can use your freezer to make your fresh food last longer!
A general tip to know is that if you wash the food beforehand, make sure you dry it thoroughly so that there is not any excess ice attached to the food.
Freeze Leftovers / Meal Prep
This is the most useful method for me because I sometimes want a cooked meal, but do not have a lot of time to cook. What I typically do is cook a large amount so I can freeze the leftovers in small meal portions. When I want to use frozen food, I take it out from my freezer and place it in my refrigerator the night before to give it time to thaw. You can freeze soup, rice, ground beef, and more! But DO NOT immediately put steaming hot food into the freezer, as this can lower the temperature of the freezer or other items next to the hot food, which could cause surrounding food to partially thaw and refreeze. Cool it down in the fridge overnight first. Small portions of hot food can go directly into the fridge. To quickly and safely cool large batches of hot food, separate it into shallow containers. Refrigerate or freeze within 2 hours.
Storing frozen food in Ziploc bags is the easiest and most efficient way of doing this. You need to freeze food in small portions, and Ziploc bags are perfect for that. Make sure you remove as much air from the bags as possible! (Tip: Reuse your Ziploc bags by washing them after using them!)
In terms of freezing and storing liquid meals like soup, what I do is freeze them flat. Once they are solid, I can stack them on top of each other or line them like books on a shelf. This makes storing meals easier and more compact.
Meat is very tricky and I recommend looking into it a little more before doing it. But I wanted to touch on it briefly to give you insight on how useful it is for me! Because I put ground beef in a lot of my meals and cooking raw meat takes a lot of time, I cook a large amount and store small portions in my freezer. I wrap handfuls of ground beef in saran wrap so that when I need to defrost some, it is already proportionate to the amount I need for my meal.
You can freeze both cooked meat and raw meat. Do not refreeze meat that has been defrosted and left outside of the refrigerator for 2 hours because they will be vulnerable to getting bacteria. However, if food is thawed in the refrigerator you can still refreeze it, but some of the quality will be lost. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any food left outside of the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours.
If stored properly you can freeze fruits for a year! This is especially great for fruits you miss when they’re out of season. Wash your fruits, dry them, and slice them before putting them in the freezer. To prevent the cut fruit from sticking together, you can line the slices on a baking sheet or cutting board and let them freeze. Once they’re solid you can transfer them into a Ziploc bag or sealed container. I also use this cutting and freezing method for vegetables like carrots and squash!
Freezing raw vegetables is great for me especially because I sometimes don’t get around to eating them before they start to go bad. Vegetables can be frozen as they are or in slices. For some vegetables, it’s better, but not required, to blanch them before freezing. Blanching is boiling or steaming the vegetable for 30 seconds to 10 minutes depending on the type and proportions of the vegetable. After blanching them, cool them, pat them dry, and freeze them. For more detailed help on blanching, here are two sites that I found very useful.
I really, really find freezing food to be extremely helpful, especially during the pandemic because it lets me go outside less frequently. Before I would accidentally let my food go bad and I would be frustrated with the loss of a meal and money, but using these methods let me save my food before that happens.
Want to try these freezing methods? Why not try it with free food! Food+Shelter+Success can connect you to resources that can get you free groceries, free grocery money, and free meals! Find out how on our website!
Author: Yazmin Hernandez Luna
Every year, college students spend on average $1,200 on textbooks and supplies for an academic school year and the cost of textbooks has been increasing for the past 30 years. The textbooks required for our courses are essential in succeeding academically, but the cost of textbooks can place a student in a sticky situation wondering if it’s worth purchasing. As a student, I have explored numerous sites and found two websites where I can obtain my textbooks for free!
Disclaimer: I recommend using the two websites if your device has Anti-Virus protection.
Z-Library provides a variety of books & articles for free in PDF form. The book can be searched using the book's ISBN or for a better search use the Title of the book.
Library Genesis is a file-sharing site with journal articles, general books, textbooks, images, comics, and magazines in PDF form for free. Simply enter the author, book title, or subject into the search bar, find & download the textbook. Once the textbook is found, click on the title than on the new redirected page, click on the title again, and press the “Get” link to download.
Some of our textbooks might not be available on Z-library and Library Genesis, but that’s okay! Textbook Nova, Slugbooks, and Chegg are alternative resources for buying or renting textbooks at a great discounted price. Our SFSU Library is a great source for searching for books and recommends websites that may have the book you are looking for. Purchasing and/or renting books can affect a student’s budget. If you are in need of financial assistance, I encourage you to check out Food + Shelter + Success economic support or the Hope Crisis Fund, a fund that assists students financially to stay on track with their academic success.
Author: Elia Azazel
As I considered doing yoga, my thoughts were: “Where do I start? How do I start? What do I need?” Yoga is a method for relaxing your body, mind, and spirit, but for beginners, it can be overwhelming to get into. Money was a big factor that prevented me from looking into yoga. If you find yourself in need of financial support the Basic Needs Emergency Funds is a resource that can help you out! At the time, I was too afraid to start yoga because my perception of it was that I needed an expensive mat and accessories, and paid lessons to get the “proper yoga experience”. However, I found out that yoga is a lot more financially accessible than I thought! I’m not a yoga expert, but as a beginner here are my answers to these questions!
Where do I start? How do I start?
When you search “yoga” on YouTube you are immediately overwhelmed with thousands of free yoga instructors. Not only that, but there are so many different types of yoga, it’s hard to know which video to click on which can be really difficult to navigate through as a beginner. It’s not enough to subscribe to one yoga instructor because many of them delve into a variety of yoga. Yoga instructors on YouTube are aware of this barrier and title their videos in a way that is more accessible to beginners!
The first thing you want to do is ask yourself what kind of yoga you are looking for. Are you looking for fitness yoga that requires a lot of movement? Are you looking for yoga that focuses on meditation and stillness? Are you looking for yoga for your back pain or maybe meditation for sleep? Once you’ve identified your goal, you can type in keywords into the YouTube search bar and find the video you’re looking for!
As an example, here’s some key words I have searched on YouTube:
- “Yoga for back pain”
- “Yoga for upper body strength”
- “5 minute yoga”
- “Yoga to stretch whole body”
What do I need? Do I have to spend money?
To start, no you do not have to buy anything special to start yoga! This is definitely something I was concerned about as someone who was not sure how often I would do yoga and did not want to spend money for it. The materials you need will vary depending on the type of yoga you want to do, but the cool thing is that you can find alternatives to yoga accessories with common materials at home! Yoga videos will typically let you know in the beginning of the video what materials you will need, so do not worry about needing to know what you require beforehand.
In general, you will need a good amount of space to move your body. Having space to do yoga can be difficult if you do not have stable housing. Providing Assistance To Housing Solutions (PATHS) is designed to assist unhoused and students at risk of losing their housing with resources, support, and guidance!
Some yoga positions will not require a mat, but for those yoga positions that require you to sit or position your body on a hard surface, you’ll want something to cushion your body for more comfort. If you do not have an exercise mat some alternatives are towels and thick blankets. For towels I recommend folding it or layering for more cushion.
Yoga blocks are small, sturdy blocks used in poses that support your back, head, hands, and hips. Again, yoga videos will let you know when you require this for the yoga session. Some alternatives for this are firm pillows and folded thick blankets.
Bolsters are bigger than blocks, but the alternative is typically the same. Firm pillows and folded blankets work as an alternative, but a really good suggestion is to use the removable cushions from your couch.
Yoga Belt or Strap
Yoga belts and straps are typically used in positions to stretch parts of your body. A regular belt, scarf, tie, or even a sock can work as an alternative!
Personal Yoga Instructor Recommendations
All of these YouTube instructors have really chill vibes and a calming voice which is essential for the relaxing yoga that I need. On top of themed playlists such as yoga to do in the morning or yoga for mental health, their channels have useful playlists. Some channels are categorized by length and style. Additionally, some have playlists categorized for beginners, intermediate, and advanced yoga!
Part of being mindful with your body, mind, and spirit is reducing stress. It can be difficult to manage your stress when you do not have consistent access to food, and stable housing and money. The Food+Shelter+Success team at Health Promotion and Wellness has a variety of resources for free food, housing assistance, and economic support at your disposal! You can read more information at our home page.
Author: KC Agramon
After this long and unusual semester, we are all looking forward to finally getting a relaxing break. There are a variety of ways to enjoy your time after the semester is over. Here are some things you can do to make this holiday break as productive as possible!
But First Errands
For me, the first step to destress is to accomplish everything on my to-do list items; like going grocery shopping. Getting my errands done for the week gives me relief, because I know after I finish everything on my to-do list I can relax! Though getting my shopping done early can be a relief, if I do not have enough resources that week it can actually be more stressful than relaxing. If you feel the same or find yourself not having enough money to buy your groceries reach out to the CalFresh help clinic! CalFresh gives eligible students free grocery money. Do you need help applying? The CalFresh Help Clinic can help you with the application process if you don’t know where to start.
Once you get your errands done you could also explore your city! I live in San Francisco and like to bike and walk to different locations in the city and enjoy the scenery here are some of my SF go-to’s.
- Lake Merced where you could enjoy nature and the lake.
- Ocean beach where you can hear ocean waves and scenic views!
- Embarcadero where you could see the bay bridge and if you walk far enough you could enjoy the pier.
- You could also walk to Marina Green/ Crissy Fields where you could see the Golden Gate bridge, marsh, and the beach all within close location from one another!
- If you’re feeling like you just want to stay in one place and enjoy the views Palace of Fine Arts or Dolores Park might be the place for you. These two locations both have great picnic areas where you can sit by yourself or with family! You could also have your picnics on previous locations stated above (just make the most out of it)!
There are a variety of ways you can enjoy your break. These are resources and locations you can come to relive that stress and check off those items on your to-do list this break! Remember to follow the COVID guidelines and keep 6 ft away from each other during the break. Make sure that if you are not feeling well; make the choice to stay in and help reduce the rate of COVID. For more information on wellness and relaxation resources visit wellness.sfsu.edu. For more information for students facing housing or food insecurity visit basicneeds.sfsu.edu!