Recently, the University of Connecticut’s Give a Meal initiative was reported to have raised nearly $10,000, representing a 12 percent increase over last year’s fundraiser.
This initiative allows UConn students to donate a single flex pass towards helping to serve those in need upon entering one of the dining halls on campus.
The funds raised by Give a Meal will be used towards four organizations: the Windham No Freeze Shelter, the Covenant Soup Kitchen, the Mansfield Pantry and Community Outreach.
Despite advertisement in the UConn Daily Digest, the particular success of this year’s efforts are actually attributed to the work of 4th-semester communication and journalism double major Paul Michael Mullally along with a team of others committed to tackling this initiative as a school project.
While it is impressive that donations have rose substantially compared to last year’s funds, there is still much more that UConn can do for the underserved. The fact that this success is due in large part to a student project underscores a slight lack of enthusiasm, or perhaps ineptitude, on the part of the university.
According to Mullally, previous marketing efforts were muddled with a lot of words and limited visuals, which failed to capture the interest of students and generate considerable revenue.
“We simply took the idea, but rebranded it with a more simplistic and visually appealing marketing approach,” Mullally said.
This is a relatively simple fix and it is baffling that UConn did not consider such an approach from the onset. If one compares this campaign with advertisements for, say, First Night, it is clear which is more appealing; the First Night poster has a number of striking visual motifs and colors that draw the viewer in while the Give a Meal poster is text-heavy and difficult to read, especially with the limited time spent swiping into a dining hall.
With considerable rates of poverty near the Storrs area in places such as Willimantic, Windham and Mansfield, UConn should take a more proactive role in feeding the underserved. This could be done by increasing the number of Give a Meal fundraisers throughout the semester or by making each fundraiser more expansive by running it throughout the day or week instead of just three hours on a Wednesday. Overall, it is laudable that the Give a Meal campaign has seen greater success, however UConn is capable of even more significant contributions to the underserved.