The annual Governor’s State Employees Food Drive is a time to spread awareness about food insecurity across Oregon, but similar efforts focused on helping UO students happen year-round through the work of the Food Security Task Force.
With some task force outreach curtailed during the pandemic, the food drive steering committee saw an opportunity to work together to address student food insecurity. That partnership has produced the weekly canned food drive directly aiding the Student Food Pantry.
Another goal of the collaboration is to amplify the messaging of the task force to reach employees and inform them of ways they can connect food-insecure students with resources. The task force-steering committee collaboration has created a guide to aid faculty and staff members in the endeavor.
The guide provides ideas for faculty members and graduate employees as well as officers of administration and classified staff who work with students. Among the suggestions are to add to course syllabi a link to the dean of students food security website, inform work-study students about food stamp eligibility, and discuss the existence of food aid for students with colleagues during staff meetings.
Food drive organizers say food insecurity is an issue that affects UO students across all backgrounds and identities. It creates barriers, reduces performance and impedes success, they note.
A common misperception about student food insecurity is that it only affects undergraduate students. Graduate students are just as likely to be food insecure.
Food insecurity among students can include skipping a meal, eating less at one meal to stretch it into two, reducing the amount of food they eat to a point that it is no longer fulfilling, or avoiding social situations where others may be buying or sharing food.
Many resources are available to UO students facing food insecurity. The Office of the Dean of Students has a comprehensive list of both on- and off-campus resources aimed at providing students with options. The resources can be located by visiting the dean of students website.
“Our hope is to empower faculty and staff to address this really pervasive problem with students, either in class or as employees” said Cami Thompson, a program manager with University Advancement serving on the food drive steering committee. “The more our employees feel comfortable talking about food insecurity, the more we can connect students with the resources they need to succeed.”
The Governor’s State Employees Food Drive runs Feb. 1 to 28. For more information, see your department’s food drive site coordinator. If you aren’t sure who that is, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected.