Donate Meal Plan Points, Help Other Students

At the end of each semester, some students find they have extra meal plan points that they haven’t used to purchase food on campus. Now, those points can be put to good use: helping other students.

Staff and volunteers from Humboldt State University’s student-led Oh SNAP! Student Food Programs will collect point donations in the J Cafeteria at the end of this semester.

Donated points will be distributed in $30 increments to students who have been referred by various departments across campus. The $2,500 in J Points already collected is from student donations and partially supported by grant funding from the California State University.

“It’s wonderful to see students helping each other and to see different departments working together to address food insecurity,” says Dining Services Director Ron Rudebock.

Donating points isn’t new for HSU. Over the last five years, funds from donated points have helped Oh SNAP! purchase items for its campus food pantry. What’s new this year is that points will be transferred to students and are intended to provide short-term assistance.

“A J-Point donation program like this is a way to formalize the efforts of student activists,” says Health Educator Ravin Craig. “Many students currently use their extra points to buy food for friends and roommates. This gives us a way to reach more people.”

To qualify for donated points, students must have applied to CalFresh, or intend to apply within five business days, of the J Point request and they do not need to have a meal plan. Calfresh eligibility does not determine eligibility for the J-Point program.

The meal program adds to the University’s growing efforts to address food and housing insecurity through programs and research. Oh SNAP! has provided a food pantry and workshops, as well as CalFresh application assistance for the last few years. In 2016, Humboldt State became one of the country’s first universities to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

At the same time, Social Work Professor Jen Maguire has been researching food and housing insecurity. Just recently, she and Rashida Crutchfield, a professor of Social Work at Cal State Long Beach, authored a major study on food insecurity and homelessness affecting students in the 23-campus California State University system. More details about the study and systemwide efforts are at the CSU Basic Needs website.

“We’re excited to push the J-Point program to a new stage,” says Dave Nakamura, executive director of the University Center, which will help administer the donated points. “It meshes well with helping to address student needs and is in step with the state and the CSU’s emphasis on basic needs.”