Student hunger has attracted national attention in recent years, and the UO community can help tackle the problem head-on by making an online donation to the campus food pantry this Thursday.
Online donations are a new feature for this year’s Governor’s State Employees Food Drive. Through a generous partnership with FOOD for Lane County, donations up to $3,700 on Thursday, Feb. 21, will go directly to the Student Food Pantry.
Coordinators are calling the initiative Feed the Flock Day, as this effort will contribute to existing campuswide efforts to find solutions to student hunger.
The $3,700 will allow the pantry to purchase a new double-wide refrigerator and new shelving.
“The additional refrigeration and shelving will allow us to have more food on hand,” said Doug Hale, director of the Episcopal Campus Ministry, which runs the pantry out of a 200-square-foot, one-car garage on East 19th Street. “FOOD for Lane County providing this fundraising opportunity shows me how much they are behind the effort to serve more students.”
The food pantry currently serves around 190 students per week and approximately 1,000 unique visitors per year, according to Hale. FOOD for Lane County supplies most of student pantry’s food, last year totaling almost 40,000 pounds of fresh produce and frozen, perishable and shelf-stable food.
“We also provide ongoing networking and educational opportunities throughout the year, including a conference that features workshops from the University of Oregon,” said Nathan Keffer, partner agency services coordinator for FOOD for Lane County.
Donating online is simple. On Feb. 21, a check box will appear in the online donation process asking “Would you like this donation to go directly to the Student Food Pantry?” Click yes, and your donation will be added to the $3,700 goal.
If your department already has an online team, visit your department-specific fundraising site. If your department isn’t participating in the online drive, visit the main fundraising website.
Feed the Flock Day compliments the work of the UO Food Security Task Force, composed of representatives from a cross section of university divisions as well as FOOD for Lane County. The task force meets monthly to discuss how best to align limited resources to meet the needs of students experiencing hunger.
Their efforts have produced innovative programs, such as Ducks Leftover Textover, which alerts students to leftover catering from campus events via an opt-in text system. Faculty and staff can opt-in to Ducks Leftover Textover when ordering through UO Catering.
Additional programs include a bimonthly Produce Drop at the Erb Memorial Union and Ducks Feeding Ducks, which transfers $10 to a student’s account for use at any campus food venue that accepts Duck Bucks if they meet certain criteria. Students experiencing hunger may use Ducks Feeding Ducks up to three times per term, and follow-up emails share information about other resources available to students for whom hunger is a recurring issue.
“I am happy about how many students have used the system, but I am also really sad about how many students actually need these resources,” said Ivan Chen, external vice president for the Associated Students of the UO and a member of the task force. “I think the responsibility for faculty and staff is making sure students can succeed in their higher education and have a bright future.”
More information about the student food pantry is available at http://www.uoecm.org/the-student-food-pantry.html. The Governor’s State Employees Food Drive runs through Feb. 28. For more information, see your department’s food drive site coordinator. To find out who that is, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected.
—By Larissa Ennis, Government and Community Relations