Food insecurity has many forms, including skipping a meal, eating smaller meals, or eating lower quality food to cut costs. If you live off campus and are having a difficult time accessing enough food to meet your needs, there are several supports in place to help you. The best place to start is by contacting the Dean of Students Office. They are best situated to connect you with services based on your specific situation.
Dining Services offers two meal swipe programs:
- Supplemental Meal Swipe Program: This is intended for students with meal plans, and students can activate it via the "My Account" tab in Spire. This loads 3 days of meals onto your UCard. The Dean of Students Office will be notified and a staff member will follow up with you to discuss any barriers you may be facing.
- Meal Plan Assistance Program: This is an application-based program that may be awarded once during your studies and is meant to provide support for financial hardship or unexpected circumstances. A typical review by the Dean of Students Office takes 1-2 weeks and any award is based on your specific situation.
Outside of UMass, there are several community resources and programs that can assist you:
- The Amherst Survival Center in North Amherst, near the Cumberland Farms has a food pantry providing 14+ days of food at a time. No ID is needed, there is no citizenship requirement, and there is no income cap. They offer in-person “shopping”, curbside pick up, and delivery to many complexes.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides money on a card for nutritious food each month. You may qualify if you: don’t have a meal plan for 2/3 of your meals, were awarded work study, your financial aid EFC is 0, or you meet monthly income requirements ($2200 max for a person living alone). Drop-in hours for the 2023-2024 school year will be held in Bartlett 103 from 1pm-3pm on the first Wednesday of every month: 9/6, 10/4, 11/1, 12/6, 2/7, 3/6, 4/3, 5/1. Outside of those times, contact The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for SNAP sign-up assistance.
- The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts supplies many local food banks. They have SNAP enrollment coordinators that can determine eligibility and help you enroll over the phone in as little at 10 minutes. You can contact them at 413-992-6204, or talk to an enrollment coordinator in person during one of their monthly drop-in sessions in the Off Campus Student Center.