Food Pantry Friday useful for extra flex dollars

Kate Wegehaupt

Kate Wegehaupt

Extra, end-of-the-year meal plan flex dollars will finally go to a worthwhile cause. This April, students can donate up to 50 percent of their school meal-plan money to the Brookings Area Food Pantry.

Personally, I remember desperately throwing away my extra flex; buying meals for the six people behind me in line, grabbing an extra-large coffee every morning (I think this is where my addiction originated) and purchasing a pallet of SDSU ice cream for my neighborhood back home. I just barely spent it all. With the help of many groups from SDSU, a better food plan is a reality.

The first donation date is Friday, April 16, followed by April 23 and 30. Students can pick up a ballot from all main dining sites, selecting the food items or dollar amount they’d like to donate to Brookings Area Food Pantry. Ballots are then turned in to drop-boxes at each dining location. From a student’s perspective, that is all the work it takes to help someone out.

After being turned in, your pencil checks translate into healthy food items that the Brookings Area Food Pantry needs most. The Monday following a donation day, SDSU Dining Services will deliver donations to the Pantry.

Brookings Area Food Pantry, for those who haven’t worked with it, opens its doors to any person or family with limited income. Visitors can shop for groceries up to four times per year, with sometimes more frequent exceptions.

Don Kasak, manager of the Brookings Area Food Pantry said it is normal that “in 15 minutes, a family can walk out of here with $250 to $300 worth of groceries.”

Kasak said the number of singles and families affected by the economic downturn has increased the pantry’s use. In 2005, 338 families and 522 adults were assisted. In 2009, those numbers tripled to 1008 families and 1533 adults.

From my point-of-view, this plan is a great way to not only help local people, but spend extra meal-plan money in a positive way. After all, a person can only buy so many cartons of gum from the C-Store. It is a thoughtful way to spend the flex-dollars that would have dissolved at the year’s end, anyway.

As another part of Food Pantry Fridays, donation boxes will be stationed in the Larson C-Store for actual food items. Here’s an idea: the remaining 50 percent of extra flex can buy food items from the C-Store, helping spend more of your extra money and helping even more people!

Doug Wermedal, assistant Vice President of student affairs, helped organize Food Pantry Fridays. Planning started mid-fall semester, culminating in April’s kick-off. Hopefully, this program will continue in future years, maintaining student options.

“Student Senate, Dining Services and Student Affairs have all made significant contributions in time and effort to bring this pilot project to reality,” said Wermedal. “We anticipate a smooth implementation, but as with any first-time event we will likely encounter some lessons that would help improve subsequent years’ events.”