AFT-Oregon Sponsors a ‘Feed the Need’ Event at Presidents Conference

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What is ‘Feed the Need’?
‘Feed the Need’ is an AFT-Oregon program that will collect much needed food, pet and house hold items, in addition to cash donations, that are essential for everyday use to support locals and communities in need.

Who initiated the event?
President Rodriguez, after reading about such a program at his alma mater, California State University at Fresno brought it to the AFT-Oregon Executive Committee where it was unanimously approved.

Why are we doing these events?
One of our objectives as per Article II Section 2 of the AFT-Oregon Constitution is, “to bring locals into relations of mutual assistance and cooperation between themselves and with workers of other unions.” Independent research has shown that food and home insecurity is a growing problem. Several of our AFT-Oregon campus sites and k-12 school districts have food pantries and clothing closets to address the ever present and growing need of food insecure students.

Is this a one-time event?
AFT-Oregon will be working to include a “Feed the Need” drive at our usual events or as requested by a local.

When is the next ‘Feed the Need’ event?
During the AFT-Oregon Presidents Conference on November 1-2, 2019. Our cousins at Local 3544, Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF), after a year of negotiating with administration, are preparing for a potential strike. Impasse has been declared and they are currently in the 30-day cooling off period. Although they continue to bargain, last best offers were presented on October 3, 2019. The key issues are the proposed drastic cuts to health insurance cost sharing and wage proposals that do not cover the cost of living (to read more, visit the GTFF bargaining blog).

To support GTFF, at the AFT-Oregon Presidents Conference to be held on November 1-2, 2019, the ‘Feed the Need’ team will be collecting donations. Please bring nonperishable items such canned foods and family items such as hygiene/toiletry products as well as pet food. Any cash contributions up to $500.00 will be matched by AFTOregon. An impending strike can have a decimating impact on the grad students who are already struggling to make ends meet. Rob Glase, AFT-Oregon Field Representative researched the issue and has provided the following data:

  • Food insecurity among students in higher education is not studied by the federal government so it is unclear how many students are food insecure nationwide. Some researchers have begun looking at this issue, and a report issued by Bon Appétit Management and a researcher at Harvard University is a good starting point.1
  • A 2018 study by the Wisconsin HOPE labs looked at food insecurity among 43,000 students at 66 colleges and universities nationwide.2 They found that 36% of university students reported food insecurity in the 30 preceding days. They also found that 36% of university students reported housing insecurity, and that 9% were homeless in the preceding year. This study and surveys of community college students found higher rates of food insecurity, up to 56%.3
  • In 2015-16 a University of California Study of undergraduate and graduate students found that nearly ½ of the undergraduates and ¼ of graduate students in the system experienced food insecurity.4
  • These finds were reinforced by a 2019 study that looks at undergraduate and graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 17.8% of graduate students were food insecure.5
  • One method of address the issues of food insecurity on US colleges and universities has been the rise of food pantries on campus. This is addressed in several of the above cites articles, and focused on in a 2018 articles published in Nutrients.6

Again, collections will take place at the upcoming AFT-Oregon Presidents Conference on Nov. 1 -2 at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. It is our hope that this event and future endeavors establishes that AFT-Oregon members are looking out for each other regardless of local or community. We stand together as cousins!!!

In Solidarity,
Jaime Rodriguez
President, AFT-Oregon


1Cheryl Sternman Rule and Anthony Abraham Jack, “When students are Hungry” (Bon Appétit Management Company and Harvard University, 2018).
2 Sara Goldrick-Rab et al., “Still Hungry and Homeless in College” (Madison, WI: Wisconsin HOPE Lab, April 2018), 4.
3 Goldrick-Rab, S., Richardson, J., & Hernandez, A. (2017). Hungry and homeless in college: Results from a national study of basic needs insecurity in higher education. Wisconsin HOPE Lab. Retrieved from
4 Suzanna M Martinez, Katie Maynard, and Lorrene D Ritchie, “Student Food Access and Security Study” (Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016).
5 Jessica Soldavini, Maureen Berner, Julia Silva, “Rates of and characteristics associated with food insecurity differ among undergraduate and graduate students at a large public university in the Southeast United States” Preventative Medicine Reports 14 (2019).
6 Aseel El Zein, Anne E. Mathews, Lisa House, and Karla P. Shelnutt, “Why Are Hungry College Students Not Seeking Help? Predictors of and Barriers to Using an On-Campus Food Pantry” Nutrients 2018, 10, 1163.