Summit, food drives help support fundamental needs of WSU students

A student provides their cougar card to a cashier.
Cougar Meal Swipe lets students request funds they can use at campus dining locations.

The Washington State University Pullman community is invited to support students’ fundamental needs this fall by attending an informational summit and making donations to the Cougar Meal Swipe program and Cougar Food Pantry at home football games.

The State & Local Resources for Students Summit will take place virtually Sept. 18 from 1-3 p.m. and will provide information for faculty and staff on student support resources available in the community. The goal is to help faculty and staff become better equipped to help the students in their spaces.

“There are a ton of local and state resources that students are eligible for, but most of us don’t know about them or how students can access them,” said Matthew Jeffries, assistant dean of students, director of campus climate and community building, and organizer of the summit. “We want to be a bridge between WSU and our broader community and give faculty and staff the information they need to connect students to external resources when we’ve exhausted ours.”

The summit will feature presentations from several local offices, including Whitman County Public Health, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Community Action Center.

While all faculty and staff are encouraged to attend, Jeffries said the summit will be particularly helpful for those who directly serve or work with students – instructors, advisors, graduate faculty and coordinators, staff, and those with student employees.

Jeffries said he hopes the summit will not only illuminate community resources available for students, but also highlight areas where WSU can build additional student resources and support into its policies and practices.

“We are all striving to make sure our students have their fundamental needs met, and this summit is about removing barriers and building community within our community to create better support systems for our students,” he said.

‘An important investment in students’

WSU is also addressing food insecurity this fall with partnerships with donors and direct action from faculty and staff. Corporate donors WSECU and Gesa have partnered with the university to support Cougar Meal Swipe and the Cougar Food Pantry, respectively — two programs that provide crucial resources for students experiencing food insecurity. 

WSECU donated $5,000 to Cougar Meal Swipe, which lets students request funds they can use at campus dining locations. The program currently sees about 30 funding requests per day, but during peak times requests can increase to 80 per day. 

“WSECU’s investment will help launch this fall’s program, and the positive impact they’re having for students is going to be remarkable,” said Kim Holapa, senior associate vice chancellor for strategic initiatives in Student Affairs. “This is an important investment in students that WSECU is choosing to make.”

The $5,000 donation could cover up to 700 meals for students in need. WSECU is the first corporate partner to support Cougar Meal Swipe.

“Being a university student is such a unique time of life that should be spent learning and building life skills, not worrying about where your next meal is coming from,” said Ann Flannigan, vice president of public relations at WSECU. “We’re proud to support the Cougar Meal Swipe program and its work to help the students who need it most.”

Faculty and staff can contribute to Cougar Meal Swipe by donating directly to the program

The WSU community is also invited to contribute to students’ food security through donations to the Cougar Food Pantry. Gesa Credit Union is providing food collection receptacles at three guest services tents in Martin Stadium during home football games, and fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable donations; all items will be given to the Cougar Food Pantry for distribution to students.

For more information on these programs, visit the Student Care Network website.

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