Basic Needs
Together We Will End Hunger, Malnourishment, and Homelessness

BNS Fall 2017 Case Competition

BEACN takes the cake at the inaugural 2017 Basic Needs Security Case Competition

By Sara Tsai, Community Programs Coordinator & Basic Needs Security Coalition Chair

January 21st, 2018

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The UC Berkeley Basic Needs Security Committee, in conjunction with ASUC Office of Senator Connor Hughes, Office of Senator Taehan Lee, Office of Senator Carmel Gutherz, FEED Berkeley, and the Basic Needs Security Coalition, hosted the first ever Basic Needs Security Case Competition as part of the 2017 Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week. From November 12th to November 16th, 2017, teams of 3-5 students critically brainstormed solutions to pressing BNS issues outlined in the prompt.

In total, fifteen interdisciplinary teams of students, with studies ranging from political economy to neurobiology, sociology, computer science, and business, engaged in the competition. With a first place prize of a meal with the Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion Oscar Dubon, Jr., a second place prize of a sponsored boba party for 30 people, and a third place prize of a $20 gift card to the Berkeley Student Food Collective for each team member, students were driven to think outside the box and create impactful strategies in order to win. A team of staff and graduate students reviewed all the submissions and selected the teams who would proceed to the finalist round, and finalists presented in front of a panel of judges on Friday, November 17th. The judges included Ruben E. Canedo, the UC Berkeley Basic Needs Committee Chair and UC System Basic Needs Co-Chair, Meg Prier, the Campus Farms & Gardens Coordinator, Sandra Lupien and Robert O’Connor, MPP Candidates at the Goldman School of Public Policy, and Anthony Abril, an Associate Consultant at the Bridgespan Group.

At the final event to wrap up the Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week campaign, folks came together for a community dinner where the judges announced the results. Allegra Saggese, Sampath Duddu, Annie Lu, Garima Raheja, and Kaautam Uthaya Suriyan, who represented Team BEACN, were named the overall first place winner.

“This case competition provided a great opportunity for BEACN members to put their heads together, bringing unique perspectives from their various fields of study and the many BEACN social responsibility consulting projects they have worked on. I was inspired by the members of my team, and the progressive ideas they brought to the table, really pushing for social policies and recommendations that understood the nuances of the community and sought to create tangible, positive changes,” said Garima Raheja, a junior on team BEACN.

“The biggest challenge was consolidating all of our research, personal knowledge, and ideas into a cohesive and convincing presentation. Once we established our framework, we were able to develop solutions that were not only unique and out of the box, but also well illustrated. It was great being able to apply our individual skills to working on solving important problems on campus, and we look to implement many of our solutions in the near future,” said Sampath Duddu, a senior on the team.

The solutions that team BEACN presented impressed the judges so much that the team will work to tangibly implement them in the spring 2018 semester. In two weeks, they will also have the opportunity to eat lunch with the Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion Oscar Dubon to discuss their work.

Team members:

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Kaautam Uthaya Suriyan is a Sophomore studying Economics and a minor in Industrial engineering and Operational Research. Kaautam hails from Malaysia, a third world country renowned for its tourism and good food.  He has been an Associate Consultant in the Bay Area Environmentally Aware Consulting Network (BEACN) for the past 2 semesters and has recently been promoted to become a project manager. Kaautam dreams of becoming a strategy or management consultant who improves businesses, implement sustainable solutions as well as improve consumer experience with products. He is a big sports fan and spends his leisure time watching games or playing them.

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Allegra Saggese is a senior majoring in both Environmental Economics/Policy and Rhetoric. Throughout her time at UC Berkeley she has been involved in many on-campus organizations related to food systems and sustainability including being a Board Member for the Berkeley Student Food Collective, Legislative Director in the ASUC for the environmental senator, and now as Co-President in BEACN. She has developed an interest in research and understanding the economics of environmental policy implementation and hopes to continue in academia to work on climate change economics. Unrelated to her studies, Allegra often goes to local movie theaters for Marvel films, cooks, gardens, and does the crossword.

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Sampath Duddu is a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Olympia, Washington. On campus, he has worked as an iOS engineer on ASUC OCTO’s Berkeley Mobile team, a project leader for one of the research teams at Sports Analytics Group at Berkeley and as an Associate Consultant, Project Manager, and VP of Projects (current position) in BEACN. Sampath hopes to some day start his own tech company, focusing on making a positive impact in the sharing economy, sustainability, or education space. Outside of school, he enjoys following, watching and reading about professional and college sports, listening to music, watching movies and TV shows, and hanging out with friends.


Annie Lu is a senior majoring in Environmental Economics & Policy and double minoring in Food Systems and Sustainable Environmental Design. She honed her existing passion for sustainability through the lens of food systems solutions that also prioritize uplifting food workers and bettering human health. She has been a proud member of BEACN since her first semester at Cal, and is constantly inspired by the diversity of ideas and results that comes from collaboration with her BEACN peers. In her free time, Annie likes to paint, swim, and chill with her pet ball python Richie.

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Garima Raheja is a junior from Fremont, CA studying Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She is interested in using big data techniques to study climate change, and creating business and technology solutions to alleviate the effects of climate change on communities around the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about BEACN (Bay-Area Environmentally Aware Consulting Network), they are pleased to announce that they are recruiting for Associate Consultants for the Spring semester. You can find them every day on Sproul tabling, and one of their members will be happy to talk about the organization and if they would be the right fit for you.


Here are the dates for the recruitment events:

Info Session #1 | 1/23 Tuesday | 8:00-9:30 PM | 60 Barrows

Info Session #2 | 1/24 Wednesday | 8:00-9:30 PM | 166 Barrows

Case Workshop | 1/25 Thursday | 8:00-9:30 PM | 102 Moffitt

Application Due 1/26 Friday | 11:59 PM

You can learn more about BEACN at their website and get up to date information about their Spring recruitment on their Facebook page.  Please email - they’d love to hear from you!