As colleges and universities respond to the COVID-19 crisis, student affairs leaders and their teams have been on the frontlines, making sure that equity is embedded into campus decision-making and action plans.
Food insecure students are particularly vulnerable right now as institutions reduce dining hours and options, cancel group events, and in some cases close campus housing.
How can you best keep your campus informed about services and resources as the situation continues to evolve at your institution?
1. Keep your campus food pantry’s website up-to-date
While many institutions provided a link to resources for food insecure students either in their email announcements from the president or their institutional FAQs, however, the situation on each campus continues to shift on a daily basis regarding operating status, staffing, and services.
How to address basic needs insecurities during the coronavirus crisisAccess the Resource Center
It is important to ensure that the pantry’s website as well as any institution-wide FAQs are updated with the current operating hours and procedures for accessing the pantry. A quick audit of several college and university sites found that only a handful had updated information on the pantry website and/or in the institutional FAQs.
2. Send periodic reminders about basic needs resources to students, faculty, and staff
Individuals’ situations are changing rapidly as COVID-19 spreads. Someone who didn’t pay attention to information about campus food pantry resources 10 days ago might find themselves needing to access them now. Therefore, it is important to ensure that stakeholders across campus have updated information about what is available, how to access it, and who to contact for additional questions.
3. Consider temporarily opening the pantry to students, staff, and faculty
Colleges and universities have taken a range of approaches to their food pantries, some limiting it only to students in need while others have opened it up to the entire campus community.
If your pantry is limited to solely students, consider whether it might be feasible to temporarily extend the services to faculty and staff. In particular, hourly staff and adjuncts are two populations that student affairs leaders have highlighted as particularly at-risk right now.
4. Partner with your advancement office to run a fundraising appeal
Many alumni, parents, and other community members are concerned about the hardships students are facing in light of COVID-19 and are proactively asking for opportunities to help. Consider reaching out to your advancement colleagues to see whether the campus food pantry could be prominently featured in any upcoming fundraising appeals. These campaigns can have a huge impact: In 2019, Kansas State raised over $320,000 for the Wildcat Cupboard on their Day of Giving.
Additional related resources
While institution’s decision about whether to proceed with campus climate surveys will differ based on circumstances on-the-ground, we wanted to outline a few broad factors to consider as you make this decision.
Education leaders today are consumed by planning immediate responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. But they also need to plan for the long-term impact of the crisis.