The University of Oregon is devoting more effort to its food insecurity initiatives for students, and is leveraging the campus card to help disperse aid to students.
According to a Daily Emerald report, there are now five food security initiatives at Oregon, and helping to tie these programs together is Oregon’s OU ID Card — the university’s student ID card. Beyond helping students in need of a meal, the university also anticipates benefits in the classroom for students who leverage these services, as hunger often detracts from students’ abilities to focus and perform well academically.
“When we have students who are food secure, we know that they will do better in school,” said Jill Creighton, Oregon’s assistant dean of students, in a Daily Emerald interview. “When you know where your next meal is coming from, when you know where you’re going to sleep at night — those things help our students to exceed in the classroom.”
Students who sign up online for the Ducks Feeding Ducks program can receive $10 on their Duck Buck accounts within an hour of filling out an application and being approved. The money added to student ID cards can only be used at food venues on campus that accept Duck Bucks. The money stays in the account for seven days before being transferred back into the general fund, with students able to apply up to three times per semester.
Another initiative, the Ducks Food Cache, is an alert system for student mobile devices that notifies students when a UO Catering event has leftover food. Still in beta testing, the system will send a text to students that have signed up for the program 15 minutes prior to an event ending. The Food Cache is expected to be active this winter.
A more traditional outlet is Oregon’s Student Food Pantry, which allows any student with a valid OU ID Card to fill a grocery bag for free. The pantry is located off campus and operates from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
In addition to the initiatives supported by the campus card, the university also runs a Produce Drop for students to fill a bag of fresh produce for free. The university also supports Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on campus.
At the first Produce Drop, 400 pounds of food was given away to roughly 80 students in 45 minutes. Additionally, some 70 individuals have signed up to beta test the Ducks Food Cache, and the OU ID Card Office has received just under 200 applications for Ducks Feeding Ducks program.