Food Assistance FAQs

The online Food Assistance application requires students to be logged into their ONID in order to work right. If you can't access the application try a different browser and make sure you're only logged into your ONID and not any other google accounts.

Mealbux is a food assistance fund for OSU students that can be used at any of the restaurants/cafes on campus. Mealbux is allocated 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, which does not accept Orange Cash), you can save 10% off the cost of your meal.

The Full Plate Fund is a food assistance fund for OSU students who have a dining plan. Students can use these funds at UHDS dining facilities and 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. A student cannot spend Full Plate Funds until they have fully run out UHDS Dining Dollars.

The allocation decisions for who gets food assistance resources 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.

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 allocate to food insecure 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:

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.


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

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

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 the same support.

The BNC is limited in how much support we can provide with this - we can't access your card balances and that makes this challenging. First check your balance - directions are below. You might have run out of funds. It's also possible that your student ID isn't working correctly. The ID center in the MU can try to help. If you're still stuck, send us an email to [email protected] and we'll investigate further.

You can also access your Mealbux or Full Plate Fund balance by going to and signing in using your ONID information. The "My Accounts" section will have the information you're looking for.

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 BNC, 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.

Not this term, unfortunately. We have to limit these resources to a one-time-per-student-per-term basis for budget reasons. Other BNC Food Security resources may help.

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).

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 allocating food assistance to those who need it. Be honest when you fill out your application and trust us to consider how best to support everyone who needs it, including you!

We welcome feedback. You can email us anytime at [email protected].

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 application 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.

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 BNC 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.

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.

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.

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. You can learn more about our data philosophy here.


We aim to distribute food assistance funds by the Monday of week 4 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.

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.

Yes. The application is available during the first week of the longer, 11 week session, with a deadline of 5 pm on Friday of week 1.

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 in the year in which you received the funds. Any unused funds will get pulled back into the pool to be re-distributed to other food-insecure students.

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. You can read more about our philosophy of using student data here.

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

Select BNC 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 how we share your data on this page about our philosophy about student data.