Not all college students have somewhere to go during school breaks. And that often means they don’t have dining hall meals to rely upon. So, the University of Chicago has piloted a program called C.A.R.E.S. or Community Action Reaching Every Student to ensure all students can access food during break periods. During Thanksgiving and spring breaks, participating students can get free meals and snacks in a campus dining hall. And during winter break, students can receive free grocery kits for 21 meals.
“It was an opportunity to find out, who are these students?” said Christopher Toote, executive director of UChicago Dining. “Let’s make sure they can access a dining hall without a regular meal plan, so … we will take care of you. We needed to get out the message that this University cares. If you need groceries, we care. If you have dietary needs, we’ll ask and follow through.”
C.A.R.E.S. launched an information campaign to reach all UChicago students, no matter if they had a meal plan or not. Students could enroll in the program unanimously. And other students could donate flexible spending Maroon Dollars and swipes from their meal plans to their peers. Overall, 348 students enrolled in the pilot program, which provided 9,644 meals. And 30 volunteers donated close to 500 hours to the effort.
Read more about this award-winning program here.