Food Security Initiative Q&A
Q: What is the Food Security Initiative? What are the goals? Who is leading the initiative?
A: Access to healthy food is a basic human right; the Food Security Initiative (FSI) aims to alleviate food insecurity at Reed so that every community member can live, learn, work, teach, and thrive. FSI promotes food justice, food security, sustainability, community, and honor by providing free food, basic supplies, and resource information to current students, staff, and faculty. Leadership for the FSI is provided by SEEDS (Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service) within the division of Student Services.
Q: What is food insecurity?
A: Food insecurity is defined as the lack of consistent and reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable and nutritious food.
Q: How big is the problem of food insecurity nationally? At colleges and universities?
A: The most recent data indicates that 14% of U.S. households experience some form of food insecurity each year (USDA, 2015). No comprehensive national research has been conducted to firmly establish the prevalence of food insecurity among college students; however, available literature suggests the rate of food insecurity among college students is up to four times greater than the national average. Recent research found that among 3,765 students surveyed at both two- and four-year institutions, 48% of respondents reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including 22% with very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry (Dubick, Mathews, & Cady, 2016). In this same study, food insecurity was found to be more prevalent among students of color and first-generation college students than other students.
Q: How big of a problem is food insecurity at Reed?
A: During the spring semester of 2017, Reed’s FSI working group conducted two student focus groups as well as individual interviews with students, staff, and faculty. From focus groups, conversations, and research, several themes emerged:
- Some Reed students and staff are experiencing or have recently experienced food insecurity.
- Some students are accessing support from off-campus food pantries, food stamps (SNAP), and other Portland community resources.
- Some students, with or without a meal plan, have experienced food insecurity.
- Some students have experienced food insecurity regardless of living on or off campus.
- Food insecurity for some students increases during academic breaks, including summer.
Q: Why would a student ever be food insecure at Reed? Doesn’t financial aid cover the cost of food at Reed?
A: Complicating factors affect many students’ financial situations, whether they are on or off financial aid. Students may experience food insecurity due to a variety of financial circumstances and situations. Some students may be responsible for sending money home to care for family members and relatives. Students may also have complicated family dynamics which lead to family withholding financial support. Additional factors could include major unexpected expenses, such as a crown for a tooth or other medical costs. Some students on financial aid may save some of their aid for a time when financial aid is not available, such as summer breaks, reducing their amount of reliable food during the semester.
Q: Why would a faculty or staff member ever be food insecure? Doesn’t Reed pay enough?
A: Not all faculty and staff have a safety net, even if their income provides a living wage to cover basic needs. In the same way that students can experience financial insecurity and unexpected expenses, staff and faculty can also have complicating factors that lead to short-term or ongoing food insecurity. Potential extenuating circumstances could include unexpected loss of income for another household member, major medical expenses, housing costs, or other unexpected expenses. Relationship abuse or other domestic issues could mean that a staff or faculty member is in between houses and not able to reliably access healthy, balanced meals.
Q: What programs does Reed have in place to address food insecurity at Reed?
A: FSI was started in 2016 to address food insecurity at Reed, but there were a few other programs already in place to address food insecurity concerns. For example, the college established an Emergency Fund in fall of 2016, managed by Mike Brody in Student Services and Milyon Trulove in Reed College Office of Admission, that may be accessed by a student in an emergency to address food insecurity.
The FSI aims to provide centralized information online about resources on campus and in the Portland community that help address food insecurity. FSI also aims to provide a centralized physical location, the Reed Community Pantry, where Reed community members can access free food and learn about additional resources.
Q: How will the success of the Food Security Initiative be measured?
A: The most important measure of FSI’s success will be whether community members are accessing the resources provided.
A: Each person who visits the Reed Community Pantry will also be invited to complete an optional intake form which includes demographic information and feedback about the resource. We will use collected information to assess who is accessing the pantry and how we might improve or add to FSI resources to better support our community.
Q: How is the Food Security Initiative funded?
Current funding for 2017–18
- $7,000 raised from students’ end-of-semester (Spring 2017) board point contributions used by Bon Appetit to purchase food supplies for the Pantry.
- $10,000 from student senate (one-time gift).
- $1,300 from Office for Inclusive Community (OIC) for furniture and basic setup supplies for the Reed Community Pantry.
- Summer interns funded through Social Justice Fund (Office for Institutional Diversity) and OIC.
- Student SEEDS Coordinator, funded through SEEDS budget.
- Board point and commuter point account direct contributions (system still being developed with Reed’s business office and Bon Appetit. Will collaborate with Development on plans for receiving financial contributions from alumni, parents, and other community members).
- Continued end-of-semester board point drives for Reed Community Pantry.
- Ongoing funding from student senate.
- Potential for ongoing funding from other campus departments or programs.
Q: Is Reed’s program(s) addressing food insecurity comparable to other colleges’ and universities’?
A: We have and will continue to learn from best practices at our peer institutions. Some of these institutions have established food security programs, and others are in the initial stages of establishing them. Most seem to be starting with a food and supplies pantry to meet immediate needs and will continue to explore other structural programs and changes to address food insecurity.
Q: What resources are included in the FSI?
A: FSI is a series of projects aimed at providing short-term support to community members experiencing food insecurity as well as preventative and longer-term solutions to reduce food insecurity in the Reed community. A Reed Community Pantry, located in GCC 042, provides items at no cost to any member of the Reed community. It also facilitates referrals to local resources and campus resources; can support and host events, such as cooking and financial literacy workshops; coordinates food and supply drives with campus partners; and coordinates additional food security initiatives, such as food recovery systems.
Q: How does someone access the services provided by the Reed Community Pantry?
A: The Reed Community Pantry has weekly hours that are communicated through campus emails, social media, and flyers. Student leaders, including HAs, Peer Mentor Program mentors, Peer Health Advocates, and SEEDS Coordinators will be key partners in promoting the available resources and referring students to the pantry open hours or the web page. We will also be working to educate faculty and staff about the available resources so that students can be referred to the program. Additionally, we will continue to work closely with financial aid staff so that the students and staff managing the Reed Community Pantry are connecting students back to the financial aid office for consultation and support, and so that the financial aid office can highlight the program to students as another available resource.
Q: Who manages the Reed Community Pantry?
- SEEDS Program Manager, Tara Sonali Miller
- SEEDS Food Security Initiative Coordinators, Alystair Augustin & Kyla Hayworth
Q: When is the Reed Community Pantry open?
A: The RCP is open weekly during the following hours, with adjusted hours over Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer breaks. If you cannot access the RCP within these hours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a separate time.
Q: Who is eligible to use the Reed Community Pantry?
A: All current Reed students, staff, and faculty are eligible to access the Reed Community Pantry (with Reed ID). We will invite those accessing services to complete a voluntary demographic survey.
Q: Where does the pantry get the food and other supplies?
A: The Reed Community Pantry is stocked through food purchased in partnership with Bon Appetit (Reed’s dining services provider), food and supplies contributed by Reed community members, and food and supplies purchased using financial contributions from student senate and other supporters on and off campus.
Q: Who can donate to or support FSI? What types of donations are accepted?
A: Currently, there are several ways someone can contribute to FSI, including:
Monetary donations to the Food Security Initiative: Donations can be made through the Giving to Reed website. In the "Comments and Reasons for Giving” section, please indicate that you would like your gift to go directly to 24530 - the Food Security Initiative.
End-of-semester board point contributions to Reed Community Pantry: Points are used to purchase food from Bon Appetit to supply the pantry. Direct contributions of food and supplies to the Reed Community Pantry during scheduled open hours. Please see the below wishlist if interested in contributing. Please understand that due to limited space and staffing, we can only accept items on this list and items that are unopened and unexpired.
We are also in the process of developing opportunities to make financial contributions to the following:
- Commuter Points Shared Account
- Board point reallocation to Board Points Shared Account
Additional information about how to contribute to each of these initiatives will be available soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute, please contact Tara Miller.
Q: Is there a wishlist of pantry items?
A: Yes, we accept the following types of contributions:
Essential College Residence Hall Food
- Frozen meals and food items, such as pizza, Bagel Bites, and Hot Pockets
- Boxed meals, such as mac and cheese and Hamburger Helper
- Frozen burritos
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Pita chips and hummus
- Beef jerky
- Cheese sticks
- Peanut butter, jelly, honey
- Apple sauce pouches, fruit cups
- Protein bars, granola bars, fruit bars
- Dried fruit (cherries, figs, blueberries)
- Coffee beans
- Hot sauces
Essentials for Residence Hall Room Cooking and Baking
- Canned veggies (green beans, corn, etc.)
- Canned fruits (peach, pineapple, etc.)
- Canned beans (garbanzos, etc.)
- Marinara sauce, alfredo sauce
- Canned tuna and canned salmon
- Chicken broth, vegetable stock
- Spices: salt, pepper, cinnamon, sprinkles
- Olive oil, vegetable oil
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Body wash and Burt’s Bees body lotion
- Tissue box
Q: What if I have non-perishable food I want to donate?
A: Donations can be dropped off at the pantry during regularly scheduled open hours. Those wishing to make a donation can also contact Tara Sonali Miller to coordinate. Please understand that due to limited space and staffing, we can only accept items on this list and items that are unopened and unexpired.
Q: Can I donate perishable food (e.g. from an event)?
A: The Reed Community Pantry can occasionally accept donations of limited quantities of packaged, perishable food. Those wishing to make a donation should contact Tara Sonali Miller. During hours when Commons is open, leftover food from events should be taken to the Scrounge, not the pantry. Another suggestion is to share a brief post, including the location of food and how long it will be available, on campus social media groups such as Buy/Sell/Trade, the Low SES/First Gen Students page, Multicultural Resource Center, or Peer Mentor Program.
When planning catered events, consider requesting to-go containers (Bon Appetit catering can provide these at a minimal cost) or bringing disposable containers so that leftover food can be taken home with event participants.
Q: What does the actual Reed Community Pantry look like and where is it located?
A: The Reed Community Pantry is on the lower level of Gray Campus Center (GCC 042). It includes a refrigerator, clothing rack, and shelving for food, hygiene products, textbooks and school supplies.
Q: What other programs are available outside of Reed (e.g. in PDX or nationally) to support people with food insecurity?
A: Oregon Food Bank has a searchable database that shows a list of all nearby food assistance resources, including prepared meals and food pantries.
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) provides Oregon food assistance benefits. 211 Info can help people apply for SNAP and connect those eligible to other supplementary food assistance programs like farm direct vouchers, nutrition education, and resources to help people grow their own food.