(Ashland, Ore.) — The timing of this month’s February Food Drive couldn’t be better for Southern Oregon University’s Student Food Pantry, which directly benefits from all food and monetary donations generated by the food drive. The on-campus Food Pantry has nearly been emptied by a combination of unprecedented use and high student need.
A total of 943 student visits to the Food Pantry in SOU’s Stevenson Union have been logged, to date, through this academic year’s summer, fall and winter terms. That’s almost double the 479 total visits to the Food Pantry during the previous, full academic year.
“Frankly, without the Food Pantry, I would have to drop out of college,” one student said in a recent, anonymous user survey. “My roommate and I depend on the food pantry to get necessary food, like canned fruits and veggies, that we just wouldn’t be able to afford. We likely would only be able to eat macaroni and ramen without the food pantry – which isn’t enough to truly support the level of work I do, or the studying I need to do for my degree.”
“During the school year, I can’t work enough to pay rent, bills, books, parking, etc., and cover all food costs,” another student said in the Food Pantry’s user survey.
SOU’s February Food Drive – part of the Governor’s State Employee Food Drive – began Feb. 1, continues through the end of the month and will support the Student Food Pantry’s operations throughout the year. ACCESS, the Community Action Agency for Jackson County, brings supplies to the SOU pantry each week, but those donated items are often gone within a day or two.
Anyone can make a one-time monetary donation online, and employees have the additional option of signing up for a monthly payroll deduction. Visit giving.sou.edu/food-pantry and donate by Feb. 28 to participate in the February Food Drive.
The popular “Fill the Bin” building competition is also back for the 2023 food drive, with the building that collects the largest volume of non-perishable food items by weight receiving bragging rights for the year. Collection bins have been placed on the main floor of all SOU buildings – including community drop-off stations in the box office for the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU, the Stevenson Union foyer and in Lithia Motors Pavilion – and will be collected and weighed on Friday, March 3.
The goals of this year’s food drive are to generate monetary donations of $6,000 and at least 3,000 pounds of food – the combined equivalent of about 20,000 meals.
Items in highest demand at the Student Food Pantry include hearty soups, instant oatmeal, microwaveable/instant meals, nut butters, pasta, pasta sauce, canned beans, cereal, non-dairy milk and snack bars.