SOU takes steps to battle food insecurity on campus

For students regularly eating at the hawk, the table set up at the beginning of every month  can donate a meal to your fellow Raiders. Those people are collecting meals for the Raiders helping Raiders program, a resource to help students facing food-insecurities on campus.

“It’s an initiative that was started by housing, and we worked with dining to make it happen,” said Allyson Beck, the director of the program and the Assistant Director of Leadership, Retention, and Marketing in Housing. “Students in the residence halls who have a meal plan that maybe don’t always use all of the meals that they have, have been asking for a few years how they could donate a meal to someone, and we were finally able to make that happen.”

The idea was first conceptualized back in spring of 2018 but wasn’t implemented until June, making this school year the first year of the program. That hasn’t stopped the overwhelming flood of meals donated by SOU students. “Almost every month we have two to three hundred meals that are donated,” said Beck. “We have a higher problem… [with] trying to get the word out about [the program].”

“It’s really just getting the knowledge out there,” said Austin Rose, the Area Coordinator for Student Apartments & Family Housing. “A lot of times you’ll know about a friend who needs a meal and we don’t know, so if you know a friend, tell them, show them the link to the program, let them apply, encourage them, because that’s how we get people to get meals.”

Emily Hawks, a junior who uses the program, does just that. “I tell all my friends about it…. it’s such a good resource for anyone who might be facing a food shortage or can’t afford good food, like even if you can afford a cup of noodles, it’s much better to be able to go to the Hawk and have a full, balanced meal.”

The program offers three meals a month to those who apply, all students need to do is go online and fill out this form every month, then pick up the meal card at the Housing, Student Life, or Student Support and Intervention Office.

If you’re in need of more meals per month, they’re open to offering them. “I think sometimes the difficulty is because we have a limit on how many meals a student can have in one month,” said Beck, “but we’re willing to look at them case by case to see what the student need really is to help continue and support them.”

Eventually, the number of meals might increase, but for now, the number will stay at three to keep from putting out more meals than they receive. Hopefully, with more time and more awareness, the number can rise as more people donate their meals.

If you are able and willing, you can donate a meal on the first Tuesday of every month when the program tables at the Hawk during lunch and dinner to continue helping the program to grow and reach more students on campus.

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