Help-a-Pirate teams up-with Sodexo

by Ezekiel Pagaduan| Staff Writer

After receiving its full funding from One Pine Day, the Help-a-Pirate Meal Assistance program will provide meals from Sodexo to students experiencing food insecurity. Meal Assistance Program  (MAP) is an expansion of the Help-a-Pirate program which provides funding for students in the event of personal emergencies.

MAP will allow students to focus on their studies rather than hunger and will ease their worries about meeting this basic need.

Tim Caldwell, director of residence life, meets with students and helps connect them to MAP’s benefits.

“This program was started in 2015 and it seeks to find creative ways to help students in need of assistance. This assistance won’t affect their financial aid. For example, the assistance can take the form of a gift card that is being donated by faculty or staff who wants to help,” Caldwell said.

If a staff or faculty member notices or identifies a student, they can reach out to the program for help, Caldwell said.

James O’Brien, general manager of food and services at Sodexo works with Caldwell to help identify and provide meals to students who would benefit from the program.

“Recent studies have reported that approximately 20 percent of all college students at four-year universities will experience some form of food insecurity during their time in college,” O’Brien said.

Students have donated meals to help fellow students. Faculty and staff have also been a major support to the program,  O’Brien said.

“I think that off-campus students would benefit from this because they are the ones that struggle the most in terms of getting meals,” O’Brien said.

“Help-A-Pirate was started  by Whitworth aiming to pay attention to student needs, but  we needed to be creative in order for the “help” to not impact student’s financial aid in a negative way, so a committee of student life, academic affairs, and administration created a process for faculty and staff to provide gift cards for students in need,” director of student success Landon Crecelius said.

The MAP program had a goal of $3,500 for One Pine Day and received $4,281. In the future when the program is more structured and is more established,  many people can donate or benefit from this program, O’Brien said.