Food Security Initiatives

Food Security Initiatives

What is Food Insecurity?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

UMass Amherst is addressing this serious matter through several Food Security Initiatives:

  • No Student Goes Hungry Policy

The supplemental meal swipe program provides immediate assistance to any UMass student experiencing food insecurity. The plan is not intended for students who have an active meal plan with current meals available. To activate the meals, log into SPIRE and activate the supplemental meal option under the main menu, finance tab; three days of meals automatically loaded to your U-Card; meal swipes can be used in any of the dining commons on campus. Once activated, your meals expire in 3 days and the Dean of Students office will be notified and reach out to you with additional resources. For instruction, reference our How-To Guide HERE.

  • New Unlimited Meal Plan

The plan was developed in collaboration with student groups is set to start in fall 2019, is priced below the current unlimited meal plan—the lower cost plan does not have the Dining Dollars or guest passes as with the other Unlimited plans; a cost savings to students and allows a greater number of students access to the Dining Commons-- and will allow students unlimited access to the Dining Commons; students can eat in at the all you care to eat or use the grab and go to take food out of the commons.

  • SNAP Benefits

In response to the COVID-19, public federal government has expanded college students' access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance health crisis, although the Program or SNAP benefits (formerly called Food Stamps) cannot be used on campus, resources are available to students. Please review the criteria on this page HERE or visit for more information.

  • Retail & Cafe Value Meals

Value meals at Retail locations with prices starting at $5.00. Reduced food prices at all cafés one hour before close; menu items include sandwiches, salads and baked goods and are 50% off one hour before close. The program allows students to stretch their dining dollars and meal exchanges. Additionally, graduate students can take advantage of the half-priced items one hour before close at the campus cafes— the half price brings many menu items down to $2.50 to $4.00.

  • 5K Dash & Dine

Now in its 11th year, our UMass 5K Dash & Dine race has raised over $45,000 for the Amherst Survival Center (ASC). The ASC connects community members to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and socialization, primarily through volunteer efforts—the organization serves UMass students experiencing hardships.

  • UMass Gives On-Going Donations

UMass Dining invites you to help us build a Meal Plan Scholarship Fund to further support food security on campus. In 2019, through generous community support, we have raised $18,000 to provide scholarships for students in need. Please join us with a donation of any amount. Your donation helps support sustainable food access solutions for students. CONSIDER DONATING HERE!

  • Single Stop Resources:

View the Student Affairs and Campus Life resource link HERE for students experiencing a personal, financial or life challenge. 

For more information please contact: Brandy Sullivan ([email protected] or 413-545-5380)

Dining with Confidence Resource Center