Seeking services at the Basic Needs Center can take some courage. It's hard to ask for help and it can certainly be hard to trust another person or an organization with personal information. We know that the questions on our Food Assistance Application in particular can feel like a lot of private information to share. Please know that we will hold your private information private, but there are some ways that we'll use your data that we want to be fully transparent about.  

Of course we use student data to make decisions. The information gathered on the Food Assistance Application helps us determine how to award our limited funds most responsibly. We ask questions about SNAP or other programs so that we can connect you to other resources that might help your food security situation or your budget in general. We also track how students are using other services like our laundry machines or our textbook lending program. This information is largely used to determine priorities and guide how we run our program and in what ways we need to grow. On an anonymous, bigger scale, we use data to drive the college affordability conversation at Oregon State. Our office is uniquely positioned to be able to demonstrate how the rising costs of tuition, textbooks, and the cost of living is pricing people out of a degree. We know that using some of our data (anonymously) can resonate with donors and help create more programs at the BNC and more financial aid and scholarships at OSU. Using data from our program helps all students have better access to an affordable education.

Below are some common questions about data and how we hold your information private. If you have other questions or thoughts, you can always email [email protected]. Comments and feedback are also welcome via attendance and participation in the BNC Advisory Board. 

Does my information get shared with financial aid? 

Very very little. Some of our programs need financial aid verification about your need level. When we seek this verification, we share your ID number with financial aid (that's it!) and they tell us if you have "high," "medium," "low" or "no" unmet need. If you didn't complete a FAFSA or an ORSAA, they tell us you have unknown unmet need (this doesn't hurt your chances at using our programs in any way). Financial Aid does not share with us what the difference is between "high" or "low" - we just know that you didn't get enough financial aid to be able to afford OSU without stress. The only other information we share with financial aid is how much, if any, Food Assistance Funds you received (Mealbux or Full Plate Fund) so that this gets included on some tax reporting stuff. 

Does my advisor know what I reported on the Food Assistance Application? 

Absolutely not. Only a few BNC staff have access to the details of what you report on the Food Assistance application - unless you give us permission to share it. Your application is a piece of your academic history and subject to the same rights and restrictions as any other FERPA protected information. We wouldn't share your information unless someone else had a demonstrated need to know. 

What about when I scan my student ID? What is that tracking and who can see that? 

We scan your ID when you come to most BNC programs such as, getting a tour or visiting our building to do laundry, checking out a textbook or participating in some other services. This is the same system that other programs across campus use to track student attendance and participation. These numbers are used to analyze if university resources (budgets!) are being used effectively and reaching the students they should be. On a big picture, this is great, because campus administrators can analyze the data to see if we're doing our work equitably. For example (and hypothetically), if the data showed that only 10% of the visitors to the Dixon Recreation center were men, that would probably indicate a problem. Luckily, this isn't the case, Dixon is enjoyed by students of all genders - but we only know this for sure because we have data to back it up. 

When this card-scanner information is tracked, it is tied to your academic record with a time-stamp and the name of the program you attended. Please know that while things like this are part of your academic record, they aren't recorded in formal places like your transcript, just stored on University computer servers. Multiple staff across campus can see what events you attended (like your academic advisor, for example) - some people can pull a list of students who all attended a certain event (the staff who oversee those programs, for example). Because we respect your privacy, the BNC codes most of the names of our events and services in a way that doesn't make it obvious why you were here. If an academic advisor happens to notice that you attended an BNC event, they would not know if you were there for a tour with a class or to take a shower. They wouldn't be able to tell if you were here to enroll in SNAP benefits or if you were here to learn about our emergency housing options. 

What happens to the information I report when I sign into the food pantry or to get a food box? Why don't you scan my ID then? 

Our agreement with the Linn Benton Food Share (LBFS) and the United States Department of Agriculture requires that we hold this information in the strictest confidentiality. We do not report to the University in any way exactly who comes to get food through our food pantry. We only share how many total people were served, how many total households, and not individual information. Because our food pantry is open to non-students too, we want to keep the sign-in process as simple as possible. 

Each month, we send our sign-in-sheets to LBFS for their reporting purposes. 

Because we hold information from the food pantry highly confidential, this also means that we would never share an individual's information from the sign-in sheet with anyone at anytime without a court order to do so.