Last Wednesday the University of Connecticut’s Dining Services and Community Outreach raised about $6,332.50 for local non-profit organizations during the fall semester’s “Give a Meal” initiative. This total came from over 2,500 students who swiped in at dining halls during the dinner shift. While this event raised a substantial amount of money, it was unfortunately a decrease from last semester’s total, which was over $8,300. This in turn was down from almost $10,000 dollars in the fall semester of 2015. Over the period of one year the amount donated during the event has dropped by about 35 percent.
This drop has come from a lack of student participation in the event, with more than 1,000 fewer students taking part. There is no given reason why this figure has dropped so substantially, as it could have resulted from a variety of factors. One of the reasons for the fall in participation is likely advertising. Last fall, a group of students tackled this initiative as a school project, and helped turn out many students. Over the last two semesters the university has simply run its standard advertisements, such as notifications in the UConn Daily Digest. Not making a greater effort to engage the students could be the cause of this reduction.
Otherwise, it is possible that students were not all being informed at the door about the initiative. Very few students use all of their flex passes, and almost all of them would be willing to give one to charity. Dining Services should be ensuring that everyone who swipes into each dining hall is asked to donate.
Dining Services should take steps to guarantee that students are making the most out of the fundraiser. That not only includes more active engagement of students but also other steps they can take to increase the amount donated. Dining Services should consider extending the initiative to lunch or even Late Night, or look into doing it more than once a semester. While the donations come from their meal plan revenue and this understandably caps the amount that can be donated, the $2.50 donation is only a fraction of the cost of a flex pass for a student. Considering the poverty present in areas around Storrs, Dining Services and Community Outreach should work with students to give as much as they can to alleviate the problem. In turn, students should make sure they are aware of the event and commit to donating.