Donate-A-Meal is a collaborative initiative between the Student Government Association (SGA) and Bon Appétit, allowing students to donate the equivalent cost of a meal to an organization chosen by SGA.
The Donate-A-Meal program has been a part of the St. Olaf community for at least 29 years, with the program originally being called “Caf Fast.” Since then, it has stood as a direct method for student advocacy and generosity. “As the world changes, there’s always different [causes] where money could go… [I like] the freedom students have to be able to express their opinions,” Student Organizations Committee (SOC) Coordinator Helen Olson ’24 said.
The process begins in early November when students are allowed to nominate a cause or organization they would like to support. Once students have applied, the Student Organizations Committee (SOC) narrows the options down to three and sends the results to the Senate. After deliberation, the Senate votes and reveals the final choice to the student body. From here, students can decide whether they would like to donate the price of one plate of food toward the cause.
In years past, students have voted for a wide variety of causes such as sending funds to a food recovery organization, numerous humanitarian aid initiatives, and local charities. To Olson, a unique aspect of the program is its ability to support individual student start-ups. “Let’s say a student organization wants to make homeless care packages, they could take that money and buy supplies,” Olson said. “It really allows the flexibility to decide where they want the money to go.”
Rooted in St. Olaf’s campus life since its inception, the program symbolizes more than just charitable contributions. It’s a dynamic space where students can voice their opinions and actively shape their community. As the decision for Donate-A-Meal continues to be finalized, students can look forward to a new opportunity to shape their local community.