It’s February, and at Southern Oregon University that means it’s time to support students who may have issues with food insecurity. President Rick Bailey recently appealed to SOU employees to donate this month during the Governor’s State Employee Food Drive, in which all food and funds gathered at SOU support the Student Food Pantry’s operations throughout the year.
SOU employees, alumni, families of students and community members all contribute generously to the annual food and fundraiser, demonstrating that the SOU community cares deeply about eliminating student hunger on campus.
The Student Food Pantry is an important resource for many SOU students. In the 2020-21 academic year, while classes were entirely remote, 113 individual students were served by the SOU Food Pantry.
“I use the Food Pantry once a week,” one student said in a survey last year of Food Pantry users. “The pick-up process is so easy that it makes getting supplemental food not scary or embarrassing.
“I have been able to focus more on my school work since I have been using the food pantry, as I no longer have to worry about having enough to eat to sustain me during the week.”
There are three ways to participate in this year’s food drive:
Donate Money: Anyone can make a one-time donation by visiting https://giving.sou.edu/food-pantry/. SOU employees are able to sign up for a monthly payroll contribution to provide ongoing support for the SOU Student Food Pantry. Donations of any size are appreciated. Employees are encouraged to take the “Governor’s Challenge” to donate $12 per month, or $144 for the year.
Fill-the-Bin Building Competition: Each SOU building has a collection bin for donating non-perishable food items. Red “food drive” bags are available at the bins, and employees should be on the lookout for detailed instructions in their campus mailbox. The building with the largest donation, by weight, wins the competition. Barrels will be collected and weighed on Friday Feb. 25.
Attend the Food Pantry Benefit Concert: Join SOU Music students for their free, annual fundraising event at the SOU Music Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8. SOU students collaborate and produce this free community concert with the goal of raising awareness of college student hunger needs. Admission is FREE with either a monetary or non-perishable food donation – all to benefit the SOU Student Food Pantry. Click here for more information.
The Student Food Pantry is one of many resources available to students facing financial difficulties. Any student facing food insecurity or a financial emergency is encouraged to first file an SOU Cares Note and someone from the Office of the Dean of Students can help access various financial and other assistance. In addition, the Basic Needs Resources website has a comprehensive list of other available resources. These include information about virtual assistance for students with a representative from the Oregon Department of Human Services, setting up an appointment with SOU’s new Campus Benefits Navigation Manager, SNAP benefits eligibility, and listings of rental, utility, transit, internet, food and other assistance options.
In addition to the formal resources available at SOU, there are many other ways the SOU community helps support and resource students facing financial difficulties. From staff and faculty stocking informal “snack stations” in various campus buildings, to advisors and employees submitting Cares Notes and referring students to resources, the SOU community cares about eliminating student hunger.
For more information and details on the February Food Drive please visit www.sou.edu/fooddrive.