Through the month of December, University Credit Union (UCU) is shining a light on food insecurity on Maine campuses and rallying support for the five University of Maine System (UMS)-based campus food pantries as they approach their busy winter season.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine ranks 1st in New England for food insecurity and 7th in the nation overall. Consequentially, college students in Maine are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and its negative impact on academic achievement. Feeding America, a national network of food banks which studies food insecurity, found that 49.3 percent of its clients in college reported having to choose between food and educational expenses (e.g. books, tuition, rent).
While the total need among all Maine students is not known, there are many who are already receiving assistance from these locations. Through the generosity of its members and others, UCU aims to raise at least $7,500 in donated funds and food, and is kickstarting the campaign with a donation of $500 to each pantry:
• Thrifty Beaver Co-op at the University of Maine at Farmington; assists 15 people per week
• The Black Bear Exchange at the University of Maine in Orono; assists 20 people per week
• Bengal’s Outreach Food Pantry at the University of Maine at Fort Kent; assists 25 people per month
• Emergency Food Pantry at the University of Maine at Presque Isle; opened in September 2017
• The Well at the University of Southern Maine; assists 20 people per day
“No student should ever be faced with choosing between food and their education,” said UCU President and CEO Matthew Walsh. “As the only financial institution in Maine chartered to serve the University of Maine System, we feel it’s our duty to do what we can to raise awareness of food insecurity among students and to help end hunger on campuses by ensuring these food pantries have the resources to continue to serve the many people who rely on them.”
Through the month of December, donations of non-perishable food items suitable for student living facilities (e.g. snacks, cereals, microwavable meals) will be collected at UCU locations across the state. Monetary donations can be made by calling 800-696-8628, by mail to UCU, or in-person at any UCU location. Donors may elect to specify a campus food pantry of their choosing; any donations not designated as such will be equally distributed to the five pantries.
For more information on the campaign and to learn more about the campus food pantries, please visit www.ucu.maine.edu/endinghungeroncampus.
About University Credit Union
Established on the University of Maine campus in 1967, University Credit Union is an innovative, full-service financial institution with a mission to actively advance the financial well-being of our members in every stage of their lives. UCU is the seventh largest credit union in Maine in terms of total assets and the third largest in terms of total members. UCU has nine retail locations across the state serving the University of Maine System students, employees, and alumni and their families primarily. Branches are located in Orono, Bangor, Farmington, Gorham, Portland, and Presque Isle. For more information visit ucu.maine.edu.