ASSOU Goes Live to Help Students in Need of Food

Photo and caption by Danielle Weston: Covid-19 has forced families all across America to change their lives and make drastic changes to little everyday things like grocery shopping. Sometimes a home cooked family meal is just what the doctor ordered.

With students in need as a result of COVID-19 and the SOU Food Pantry closed indefinitely, the ASSOU is helping students through a variety of resources. Earlier this month, ASSOU teamed up with the Student Sustainability Center and went live on Instagram to discuss how students could obtain free meals through several sources.

“We greatly encourage utilizing the SOU CARES reporting system if you are facing food insecurity or if you know of any students that are,” said Sustainability Resource Center Coordinator Jill Smedstad, adding that this is available for students who have left campus and returned home as well. This applies to anything a student is going through whether it’s COVID-19, food and housing needs, mental health, or just any overall support, Smedstad stated.

The Hawk is still open for students, faculty and community members with meal plans for pick up/take out only. Because of social distancing guidelines and safety precautions, people must stay at least six feet apart and wear a mask to enter. Another resource includes Raiders helping Raiders, which allows students who have extra or unused meals on their meal plan to donate it to a fellow student who has depleted their plan. 

Smedstad also noted that the Ashland Emergency Food Bank is helping the Ashland community, including SOU students. It takes a few minutes to register online with the food bank so the organization can link a student up with the needed food items and other resources, including delivery. Students residing outside of Ashland in Jackson County can access other food pantries

Other options include The Farm at SOU and the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP – food stamps) benefits. The Farm at SOU is working to provide fresh food like veggies, fruit and other supplies with a weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for students who are still living on or near campus. SNAP is a federal program offering a monthly stipend for purchasing food at grocery stores or Amazon. Ashland Public Schools is offering free lunches for people ages 21 and under. More food related resources can be found on the SOU website here.

The Student Sustainability Center will be hosting a SNAP Benefits Webinar training for faculty, staff, and student leaders to encourage their support of students in need across the SOU community. The webinar will be held via Zoom conferencing on May 21st from 4 – 5pm. They will be providing campus leaders with resources for helping students to apply for SNAP Benefits by reviewing frequently asked questions and reviewing the steps to apply.

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