Staff Spotlight: Natalia Semeraro (she/they)

December 8, 2023

Food Resource Coordinator, Basic Needs Center

How would you describe UC Berkeley’s Basic Needs Center to someone who has never heard about it before?

I would tell someone who has never heard of us, that the Basic Needs Center (BNC) was created because of student advocacy and many years of hard work by many people. Our center is in a basement but it is full of murals and laughter — I know it sounds cheesy but it's true! The BNC team (career and student staff) and their work is so intentional and grounded in care. I see my coworkers every day meeting students where they are at, while also organizing to fill in gaps and informing better processes to support students.

Can you describe your job/role?

I am involved in all our efforts bringing food in and then distributing it back out to our community. My role is essentially the support staff and supervisor for our food pantry team and food recovery program. Most recently I’ve been connecting more with our care team to identify and meet food needs that are more complex. I hope that my role continues to be a connector, relationship builder, and has a primary focus on how our team can continue to improve how we support students with highest need on campus and be more equitable in our food programming and distribution.

How long have you been at Berkeley?

I came to Berkeley in 2014 as an undergraduate student and have been back in the East Bay as a staff member since 2019. I just celebrated my 4 year anniversary of working at the UC Berkeley Basic Needs Center!

What do you love most about working here?

I love the people I get to work with every day. The students who lead the pantry are incredibly inspiring and teach me so much every day. The full-time team keeps me grounded and makes me laugh way too much. Everyone we’ve been able to partner with keeps me humble and helps me problem-solve. It is unique to get to cross paths with so many different people — students, staff, and community from different departments and positions on and off campus. Inevitably this work is hard and is always going to require adaptation, which is also what I love, because it is literally only possible because of how many of us there are in this work to support students and care for our communities.

What's a great day at work look like for you?

Biking to work from where I live in Oakland, connecting with partners of the BNC, supporting students, and getting out of the basement for some sun and fresh air :-)

What do you hope will be different in your work this time next year?

Next year around this time, we’ll be utilizing and sharing space on the first floor of the MLK Student Union. This is currently being renovated, but it is exciting to have much needed commercial kitchen and more visibility. I hope that I will have time for consistent communication and to create more transparency within and about our work. I also look forward to having better balance in all that I do, which I feel like I get better at doing every single week!

Where’s your favorite place on campus? 

My favorite spot on campus is near Strawberry Creek. I especially like the trails up on the hill.

Fun fact about me:

I play on two adult soccer teams, in Berkeley, sometimes Emeryville or San Pablo. Let me know if you want to play, I’m always looking for more teammates!

Headshot of Natalia Semeraro