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Saturday, April 24, 2010

SDSU Students Donate Meal Plan Money to Food Pantry

Life meets speech class: one of my students this week gave a speech about a problem I remember well from my SDSU days: student meal plan surpluses. You live on campus. Res. Life requires you to buy a big meal plan, based on the stated fear that undergraduates might fail to respond to millions of years of food-seeking instinct and forget to eat supper at college. You suffer no such instinct-deficiency, but you're also thrifty. You skip the expensive drinks at the Student Union, microwave Ramen noodles, show Mom you love her by coming home for her tater-nugget casserole on Saturday (and bringing laundry but doing it yourself). Spring finals approach, and you've got $150 left on your food account. You can't get the money back or carry it over, since Res. Life needs to guarantee margins for your friendly neighborhood for-profit food service contractor. So you end up buying extra food you don't really need, ordering extra pizzas for group study sessions, or just letting the money go to waste.

Sixteen years after I bought my last pancakes in Medary Commons, SDSU offers a solution to meal plan waste: students can donate up to 50 percent of their meal plan dollars to the Brookings Food Pantry. KELO notes the story Friday, but The Collegian's Kate Wegehaupt has the full story:

The first donation date is Friday, April 16, followed by April 23 and 30. Students can pick up a ballot from all main dining sites, selecting the food items or dollar amount they’d like to donate to Brookings Area Food Pantry. Ballots are then turned in to drop-boxes at each dining location. From a student’s perspective, that is all the work it takes to help someone out.

After being turned in, your pencil checks translate into healthy food items that the Brookings Area Food Pantry needs most. The Monday following a donation day, SDSU Dining Services will deliver donations to the Pantry [Kate Wegehaupt, "Food Pantry Useful for Extra Flex Dollars," SDSU Collegian, 2010.03.24].

Wegehaupt reports the Brookings Food Pantry can well use this help: in 2009, the Food Pantry served triple the number of residents who use the service in 2005.

My speech student informs me that DSU is doing something similar here in Madison. It would be nice if the food plan requirements didn't impose such surpluses on pennywise students in the first place... but at least we can turn the excess funds to some good. Students, put down the extra bags of jerky from the C-Store; put that money to good use for the community!

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Wegehaupt not only tells the story; she is the story! As a Students' Association Senator this last year, she was the driving force behind this project. She worked with both the administration and Aramark to push the project forward and eventually, complete it.

    Kate is a great example of dedicated student leader seeing a problem and going to bat to fix it!


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