University of Connecticut Dining Services will have its spring semester Give a Meal swipe donation event tonight, April 11.
This event, which is held every semester, will benefit several local organizations including the Mansfield Food Pantry, No Freeze Shelter in Willimantic and the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, according to Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce.
“Students are not aware, we’re hearing a lot of conversation about food insecurity, that they can utilize the Mansfield pantry and that’s one of the reasons we make that donation to them,” Pierce said.
The Washington Post published an article last week stating 36 percent of surveyed college students faced food insecurity.
“Because students living off campus are…residents of Mansfield, they are able to use that Mansfield pantry,” Pierce said.
The program also helps cover the costs of Community Outreach’s alternative break trips where they bring a group to various communities across the country and internationally to work with them on issues such as HIV/AIDS, community development, civil rights, homelessness and conservation, Pierce said.
Last semester the proceeds from the event benefitted victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico. The program generated nearly $8,000 in donations.
The amount is calculated from the number of swipes donated. Each swipe converts to $2.50, the raw cost of the food for one meal.
Last spring, students donated over 3,300 swipes.
During dinner tonight at all eight of the dining units, members from UConn’s Community Outreach program will be in the foyers by where students swipe in.
“There will be a lot of students working, through Community Outreach, who will be in the foyers encouraging students to make their donations,” Pierce said. “(They should have a) substantial (presence) at all eight dining units.”
Students are able to donate one flex pass during the dinner hours of 4:15 to 7:15 p.m.
In addition to this fundraising event, Dining Services donates large portions of its unused perishable food at the end of each semester.
“It’s always (a larger donation) this semester because we go from having all of the units open to one unit,” Pierce said.
Dining Services works with the Covenant Soup Kitchen to coordinate the deliver. The soup kitchen notifies other pantries in the area as well as the volume of the donation is usually too much for the single operation to take in.
“It’s too much for them to have…So they alert other food banks in the area,” Pierce said.
Last fall Dining Services donated 5,420 pounds of food, Pierce said.