Give a Meal at dinner tonight for Puerto Rico and Mexico relief efforts

Students can donate a flex pass between 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. to relief efforts for Puerto Rico and Mexico. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

Students at the University of Connecticut will be able to donate a flex pass on Wednesday Nov. 1 to relief efforts for Puerto Rico and Mexico.

“It’s an easy way for kids on campus to donate to something they feel they should be able to donate without having to take money directly out of their pocket,” Gil Owens, a fifth-semester communications major who has been working on marketing the event for his persuasion class, said.

Students can donate one flex pass from 4:15 to 7:15 p.m. at any of the residential dining halls.

Every flex pass donated will generate $2.50, the equivalent of the raw food cost of a meal, UConn Direction of Dining Service Dennis Pierce said.

Olivia Flannery, a fifth-semester communications major who has also been working on the campaign, said her group wanted to use the project to help a worthy charitable cause.

“We had to persuade a group of people to change their behavior, so we wanted to do something more charitable,” Flannery said. “We thought that the current events [of Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico]…were good options because it was fresh in people’s minds.”

Rob Leroy, a seventh-semester communications major working on the project, said this is an easy way for students to donate because some flex passes usually go to waste anyway.

“The outlook on donating money, especially for college kids, it really starts [with] us not being able to donate because (most of us) don’t have a lot of money,” Leroy said. “Every student can give out one flex pass because, at the end of the semester, you have at least a couple lying around that you didn’t do anything with.”

Most semesters, the proceeds from this event go to local organizations like the Mansfield Food Pantry, the Covenant Soup Kitchen, the Willimantic No Freeze Shelter and to defraying the costs of UConn’s alternative spring break, Pierce said.

This semester, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Global Giving for Puerto Rico and the International Medical Corpse for Mexico.

Global Giving donates 96.1 percent of its revenue directly to projects and services. The International Medical Corpse donates 89.3 percent to projects and services according to charitynavigator.org.

Dining services has done other special donation efforts in the past for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, which generated $7,184 and $11,493 respectively, Pierce said.

Last spring, the Give a Meal program generated $8292.50.

“I would like to see (more donations),” Pierce said. “Because of the specific cause (I think) we will see an increase.”

Flannery said she thinks the event will be successful because Dining Services has generated significant donations on this date in the past. Pierce said Wednesday nights are when most students eat in the dining halls.

UConnPIRG will also be tabling outside every dining hall to educate students on the causes, Flannery said.

“This goes to a really nice cause, and it makes the student feel good that they can donate and change something even if they don’t have much money,” Leroy said.  

Owens said that, even though it is a small donation, they can add up to thousands of dollars which can make a significant impact on the lives of those in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

“A small donation could have such a big impact on somebody’s life,” Owens said. “It’s so easy for you to do it and it will just make you feel more involved in relief efforts.”


Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.