The Foods for Fines project was selected for the spring 2023 Job Well Done Group Project Award. The project team consisted of Gina Hurney, Parking Services, Harry Wilhelm, Parking Services, Lydia Sannella Retriever Essentials, and Ariel Barbosa, Retriever Essentials.
UMBC’s Retriever Essentials and Parking Services teamed up to develop Food for Fines. This program was created to collect food and toiletries for UMBC students facing food insecurity.
Many college students across the United States are classified as food insecure* and UMBC is no exception. Lacking a steady source of nutritious meals can affect students’ physical and mental health, grades, and ability to engage in campus life. The mission for Retriever Essentials is to develop a comprehensive program of resources which eliminates the immediate burden of food insecurity for UMBC members and connects them to ongoing support networks, in order to enhance their academic retention and career success.
Retriever Essentials provides an on-campus food pantry as well as pre-packed food bags. The Food for Fines program helped restock the pantry and assisted in increasing awareness about the program and resources. Between November 7-18, 2022, individuals could donate five or more items from a list to reduce an active citation.
Unlike a standard food drive which broadly requests donations of any and all items, this drive targeted specific items to fill gaps in Retriever Essentials inventory. The project was also dedicated to collecting culturally-relevant foods for international students. Approximately 2/3 of the people who come to Retriever Essentials are international students, especially those that have recently arrived and are not allowed to work off campus and may not have the means to earn an income.
The drive also collected toiletries. Toiletries are items that we do not receive from the Maryland Food Bank, our current largest supplier. Additionally, toiletries cannot be purchased under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Therefore, community members that receive SNAP do not have assistance in purchasing hygiene products or cleaning supplies. Our drive was to help close this gap.
The project group collected approximately 300 pounds of food. The group plans to build upon the success of the program and make it a semi-annual programming effort.
The Food for Fines project group would like to encourage UMBC community members to consider making a donation to Retriever Essentials. Learn more about the current donation needs and where donations can be dropped off here.