Dining Services’ ‘Give A Meal’ event raises $8,335 for local charities


University of Connecticut’s North Campus dining hall. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Dining Services held its spring semester Give A Meal event this past Wednesday to raise money for agencies in the community. Students were asked to donate one flex pass from their meal plan to support the cause.

All proceeds supported the Covenant Soup Kitchen, the No Freeze Project, the Mansfield Shelter and UConn Community Outreach Alternative Break’s transportation funding. Donations are provided to these agencies in the form of a check, said Dining Services executive director Dennis Pierce.

In total, Dining Services collected 3,334 donated swipes, Pierce said.

“The contribution is the raw meal cost because we still have units operating and the overhead still exists,” Pierce said.

According to the event’s advertisement on Dining Services’ website, the raw food cost for every swipe is $2.50, bringing Dining Services’ total donation to $8,335.

Seven out of eight dining halls participated in the event, accepting swipes during dinner hours, 4:15-7:15 p.m. Putnam Refectory was obviously not included this year due to it being shut down for the semester for construction. However, Pierce said the loss of one dining hall didn’t seem to be a disadvantage.

“No, I do not think the absence of Putnam had an impact,” Pierce said. “From this spring to last spring we had a 15 percent increase.”

While an increase was seen from last spring, a decrease was seen from last semester. Last fall, the Give A Meal initiative raised 3,915 swipes, for a total of $9,787.50 in donations, according to last semester’s article in The Daily Campus.

“Swipes compared from last fall to this spring (were a) 14.8 percent decrease,” Pierce said. “But this is normal. Spring is traditionally less than fall.”

Last fall’s Give A Meal was commissioned by fourth semester communication and journalism major Paul Michael Mullally and his team, who took to rebranding the initiative and revamping the marketing techniques as part of a class project, according to last semester’s article in The Daily Campus.

“We did not have any students working to market (Give A Meal) this year as we did in the fall,” Pierce said.

The event was advertised on Dining Services’ website and on the Daily Digest, encouraging students to “show some Husky love” and “swipe your meal card at dinner and help support our community.”

Give A Meal began in the 1990s as an effort to give back to the community. Meal swipes were chosen as the donation medium to establish a method of contribution from Dining Services. The event is held on one day every fall and spring semester during dinner hours, Pierce said.

“We limit Give A Meal to one day a semester and to dinner because the donation comes from our meal plan revenue,” Pierce said. “That is also why we only do this once a semester and only for this cause. We do not have the ability to have others use this option to raise funds for their cause.”

When asked why Dining Services hosts this event every semester, Pierce said the best way to explain it is through the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Life’s persistent and most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Molly Stadnicki is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at molly.stadnicki@uconn.edu.

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