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Office of Student Success expands support for students experiencing food insecurity

January 18, 2018

By S.A. Reid, Contributing Writer, Emory Campus Life

Emory students experiencing food insecurity now have access to expanded support thanks to new intervention strategies to teach them how to best manage their food resources.

The Office of Student Success Programs and Services (OSSPS), a Campus Life organization delivering a range of support for students, has added a “case-management” model that helps students develop food plans.

Begun last August, this additional layer of support augments two signature intervention efforts available since 2015. One is the Emory Eagle Food Co-op program that OSSPS operates in collaboration with the Bread Coffeehouse, where students have access to a free supply of canned goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, non-perishable items, and hygiene products. The other is the Meal Swipe Program, which enables first-year students to help fellow students in need by donating up to three meals each, using guest passes included in first-year meal plans.

sandra holding groceries at emory bread food pantry

Above: Bread Coffeehouse intern Sandra Aguilera 17C prepares to unpack a bag of goods donated to the food pantry at the Coffeehouse. (Photo credit: Tina Chang)

Cover photo: Aguilera displays her Coffeehouse t-shirt for volunteer Josh MacLean, a first-year student planning a dual major in music composition and math.
(Photo credit: Tina Chang)

Case management and food plans are the latest developments in the evolution of Emory’s support for students experiencing food insecurity, according to Adrienne Slaughter, OSSPS director. The idea is not just to provide meals or items from the co-op but also make sure that students know how to optimize their food resources.

“We recognized that while the Meal Swipe Program is a good program, it’s not sustainable for students because they only get three swipes and are still hungry,” says Slaughter. “That’s not going to work.”

The case-management process begins when a student in need completes an online Food Insecurity Form and then has an initial meeting with Adrienne Bryant Smith, OSSPS assistant director. After that, Bryant Smith helps them develop a food security plan that includes a financial budget and a weekly meal-prep calendar.

Repeat recipients must also attend a special class in which they learn life skills and healthier eating habits, as well as explore ways to increase their income so that they can become more food secure.

Students experiencing food insecurity often have additional unmet needs that require referrals to other campus and community resources that can provide further help, says Smith, who can facilitate such referrals. The list includes the Community Service Board, Respect Program, Counseling and Psychological Services, Emory Dining, Residential Life, and Financial Aid.

Students can access the food insecurity support services directly. Friends, staff, faculty, crisis intervention team, and Emory Police may also refer students in need. All services provided are free, confidential, and available to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Bryant Smith credits OSSPS’ campus marketing campaign with helping to raise student awareness about the variety of assistance available to those in need. Last year, more than 200 students benefited from the Meal Swipe Program. The co-op posted similar numbers.

“We are here for students experiencing food security challenges, but we want the student body to know they are not alone,” Bryant Smith says. She emphasizes that OSSPS offers support for students coping with but not limited to academic, psychological, medical, social, and financial challenges, as well as providing assistance to assault survivors. 

Krystyna Jordan 17C, OSSPS program coordinator, found herself in need of help as a student after she lost her work-study job. The box of non-perishable items, canned goods, and hygiene products that she received from the co-op made all the difference in her world.

“Now, as a professional, I get to help on the other end of that,” said Jordan, who graduated in May with a degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. “I went from being a student who needed to use the co-op to someone who helps let students know about it. That’s really cool.”

For information on the Office of Student Success Programs and Services and its food security assistance and resources, please visit: