What is Mealbux? Where can I spend those funds?

Mealbux is a food assistance fund for OSU students that can be used at any of the restaurants/cafes on campus. Mealbux is awarded to students who are struggling to have enough money to afford healthy and filling food regularly on their limited budget. You can use Mealbux at any location that accepts Orange Cash. If you spend your Mealbux at on-campus locations (other than the coffeeshop in the parking garage), you can save 10% off the cost of your meal.

What is the Full Plate Fund? Where can I spend these funds?

The Full Plate Fund is a a good assistance program for OSU students who have a dining plan. Students can use these funds at UHDS dining facilities and at the campus grocery store, Cascadia Market - just like their regular dining plan. Unfortunately, students cannot use the Full Plate funds to purchase meals at the MU or other facilities that aren’t part of UHDS.

How does the decision get made?  Who gets food assistance and who doesn't?

The decision for who gets food assistance is made based on a series of questions that are designed to get a better understanding of the financial situation of the individual applying and their experiences with food insecurity. We compare this information with other offices to verify for accuracy and award food assistance to students who’re most likely to be food insecure.

How are these programs funded?  

Almost all the Mealbux funds come from OSU Student Fees. Each OSU student pays student fees every term. We get some of these funds to give back to students so they can afford to eat meals when they’re on campus. Student fees pay for lots of great OSU programs. You can read more here: http://asosu.oregonstate.edu/branches/sifc

The Full Plate Fund comes from other OSU students too! University Housing and Dining Services allows students to donate extra dining plan dollars to other students who are food-insecure.

How long does the form take?

The form takes most people about 20 minutes. It’ll go faster if you focus on the application and don’t multi-task.

What if I need help completing the form?

We would love to help you! You can come in to the HSRC during business hours and we’d be happy to help you fill it out. We are located at 1030 SW Madison Avenue in Corvallis.

How much will I get?

It’s hard to say -it depends on how much money we have in our budget, grants and other complicated funding streams. It’s important to know that not everyone will get the same amount. Some people have more challenging financial struggles than others - and so they may get a little more food assistance to account for that. Even if you think you and your friend have the exact same financial challenges, there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll both get the same amount or that you’ll both get help.

When is the deadline? Why is there a deadline? What if it's an emergency?

The deadline is the first Friday of the first week of every term at 5:00 pm (for Fall term, the first week is Week 1, not Week 0). The deadline is implemented to ensure that we, the HSRC, have enough time to process the applications and allocate the funds so that students will be able to use their award money as soon as possible. In the event of an emergency, we do distribute Emergency Mealbux. This is done on a case-by-case basis at any point during any term.

What documents or information do I need?

You don’t need to submit any formal documentation in the form. You may find it helpful to be logged into MyOSU to look at your Account Summary by term and/or your Financial Aid Award letter. Most questions you’ll probably know the answer to off the top of your head (we tried to make it easy).

If I say that I get SNAP does that hurt my chances of getting food assistance?

No. If you get SNAP, you will not be denied for HSRC food assistance.

What if other people need this more than me?

We recognize that hunger, and poverty can be subjective and that comparing yourself to others may prevent you from accessing services that you could potentially benefit from; Therefore, if you are struggling to have enough money to afford healthy and filling food regularly on your limited budget, you should apply to get food assistance regardless of whether or not you feel that others need it more than you. We have a process in place to make sure we’re awarding food assistance to those who need it. Be honest when you fill out your application and trust us to consider how best to help everyone who needs it, including you!

How do I give feedback?

We welcome feedback. You can email us anytime at hsrc@oregonstate.edu.

What happened to the old paper form?

The paper form is no longer used due to its inefficiency and unsustainability. With the old system, every application had to be checked over by a staff member and the data input, one at a time, into a computer system. It was hours and hours of data entry that cost us thousands of dollars in staff time. This process simply just took too long and students were not receiving their food assistance in a timely manner. The online application is also much more environmentally sustainable and will eliminate excessive paper usage while helping us use staff time for other programs.

What's the history of Mealbux? What’s the history of the Full Plate Fund?

Mealbux was created in 2009 for students who were struggling to buy meals for themselves and were having to choose between buying groceries and buying textbooks. The HSRC wanted to make sure that no student had to make that choice, and thus started this program to allow students to focus on being a successful student rather than having to worry about where their next meal was coming from. The Full Plate Fund was created in 2017 to assist students who use dining plan dollars and need extra financial assistance with purchasing meals and groceries.

Why do some of the questions repeat?

We tried to eliminate duplicative questions as best we could - but sometimes we had to repeat questions so the form would work correctly. Some of the questions that are similar but just a little different are also asked for various data and reporting purposes. We’re hoping that the multiple choice options help you breeze through the questions reasonably fast.

How will this impact my financial aid?

Food assistance is a way that OSU provides student aid to help our low-income students afford college. How much you get in food assistance (Mealbux or Full Plate funds) will be included in the total financial aid you’re receiving from the institution. For a very small number of students, this may mean that they get slightly less financial aid. This usually only impacts students who receive a very high amount of scholarships or grants. If you have questions about your specific situation, please ask the staff at Financial Aid if this might impact your case.

Why are there so many personal questions?

First - we know that asking students to report dollar amounts of tuition costs or paychecks or other financial numbers is confusing, also personal, and difficult to really compare. Numbers will never really help us understand the reality of food insecure students and how challenging it can be to afford to go to college.

Some of the questions are from nationally recognized surveys. We’ll be able to use the ways that you and your classmates answer these questions to compare the experiences of OSU students with other communities and national metrics.

We use some of the answers to some questions to send you emails that might help. For example, if we think you might qualify for SNAP (food stamps), we’ll send you an email encouraging you to apply with directions and resources to do so. The personal questions will help us help you in many different ways.

When does food assistance get distributed?

We aim to distribute food assistance funds by the end of Week 3 of the term in which the student has applied. Sometimes our partner staff is out of the office or there are administrative barriers that might make things take longer. Keep an eye on your email; we’ll update you if our timeline changes.

How do I appeal?

After you’ve received your notice of denial, you’re invited to appeal. To do so, please email HSRC@oregonstate.edu and indicate that you wish to appeal. We’ll send you a PDF copy of your application and a deadline to submit your appeal. From there, please write a brief statement (no more than 300 words) describing in what ways the application does not accurately capture your financial realities and experiences with food insecurity. Email your appeal to HSRC@oregonstate.edu and a committee will review your appeal.

Why do I have to apply each term?

Great question - and one we’re considering too! For now, we want you to apply each term because we know that people’s financial situations can change. We might change the application timeline in the future. We’ll study the data as time passes to see if offering the application each term is really needed.

Is food assistance available over the summer?

Yes. The application is available during week one of the longer, 11 week session, with a deadline of 5 pm on Friday.

When does my food assistance funds expire? 

If you got Mealbux and you are a student who will still be enrolled the following year, then your funds will roll over. If you are graduating, you will have a 2-3 month grace period over the summer to use your funds until your account is erased from the OSU database. For specific dates on when your account will be removed, you can contact the ID center personally. If you have food assistance from the Full Plate Fund, you should use your funds by the end of the Spring term.

What do you do with all the information collected on this form?

We use the application on this form to help you. We know that being a college student is expensive, challenging and stressful. We use this form to help connect you to resources that might help you make your budget stretch further. We also use the information in this form to let administrators know how increases in tuition and fees are creating real and difficult challenges for students.

How long is my data kept?

Your data is kept for roughly 7 years from the term that you completed the application.

What information from my application is shared and with whom?

Select HSRC staff members can view your data to process your application and to connect you to helpful resources. Some of your data is shared with other OSU offices for verification purposes (Financial Aid, for example) but only on an as-needed basis. You can read more about the privacy of your educational records here. http://registrar.oregonstate.edu/privacy-records

What other resources can help me keep to my limited food budget?

Here’s a few that we think you might find especially helpful:

  • HSRC Food Pantry is in Avery Lodge. We have shopping style distributions a few times a month. If it’s not a distribution day, people can come to in when we’re open to get an emergency food box. Income restrictions apply.

  • Other community food pantries and meal sites can be found on this PDF.

  • @EatfreeOSU - Find us on Twitter, see all the free food events and activities going on around campus for students! Launching Summer/Fall 2017

  • Growing Food Security - great free cooking classes (often at the HSRC in Avery!), garden parties and other food-security related events and projects

  • Food Hero - low-cost, delicious recipes and resources for cooking on a budget

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, sometimes referred to as Food Stamps) - you can apply online. You can use your SNAP funds to buy food on campus at Cascadia Market.   

  • Double Up Food Bucks - double your SNAP dollars ($10 each visit) at the Corvallis, Albany and Lebanon Farmer’s Markets.

  • Makes Cents meals in the UHDS dining centers only cost $4 and they’re nutritionally balanced

  • Organic Grower’s Club - Work parties, with a hot meal every Thursday evening during the season!

  • Mid-Valley Harvest - If you volunteer to pick fruits and vegetables for the local food bank, you can keep up to half of what you pick to take home for your family.

  • Leanne Brown has a great cookbook featuring $4 a day recipes - and the PDF version is free.