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Committee for Improving Student Food Security

The Committee for Improving Student Food Security has a new website! You can now find information
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Our Mission

Student food security is an integral element of a sustainable and equitable Portland State University (PSU) community. The Committee for Improving Student Food Security (CISFS) seeks to improve PSU students’ ability to access affordable, nutritious, culturally relevant food.  This will be achieved through fostering community partnerships, increasing awareness, addressing barriers through policy advocacy, and using data to inform and build capacity for action.

Are you concerned about…

  • Securing food?
  • Paying your utility bill?
  • A safe place to stay?
  • Child care?

Here Are Some Community Resources to Help You

Food Assistance

  • PSU Food Pantry located in Room 047A (basement) of Smith Memorial Student Union. Any PSU student is welcome regardless of need.  Students can access up to five items a week in the pantry.  Must show current PSU ID. For inquiries, please email
  • Oregon Food Bank- Enter your zip code and find food resources and their bus routes.
  • for food resources per your city, zip code, counts
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) apply on-line through the SNAP website.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants and children designed to improve health outcomes and iunfluence lifetime nutrition and health beahviors in targeted, at-risk populations.

Housing/Utility/Financial Assistance

  • can supply you with information about:
  • Transitional housing, shelters, rental housing, supportive housing, and homeless support
  • Rent/mortgage assistance
  • Furniture and clothing
  • is the official benefits website of the U.S. government that can assess your eligibility for housing, living assistance, energy assistance, and more.

Child Care and Family Resources

  • can supply you with information and resources about:
  • Child care expenses, centers, furniture and clothing
  • Parenting assistance
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants and children designed to improve health outcomes and iunfluence lifetime nutrition and health beahviors in targeted, at-risk populations.
  • is the official benefits website of the U.S. government that can assess your eligibility for child care, child support, or other family resources.

PSU Child and Family Resources

  • Resource Center for Students with Children (RCSC) offers help to students to locate affordable child care.  The RCSC can also supply students with diapers, wipes, formula, lactation kits, and has maps to the lactation rooms on campus.  The RCSC can also assist eligible students in applying for the Jim Sells child care subsidy which can help pay for up to one-half the cost of child care. 
  • PSU’s Little Vikings Child Care provides short-term, flexible day care for PSU students.
  • is the official benefits website of the U.S. government that can assess your eligibility for child care, child support, or other family resources.

Health Care Resources

  • Any student taking 5 or more credit hours regardless of their insurance coverage can come to the Center for Student Health & Counseling (SHAC) at 1880 SW 6th Avenue in the University Center Building for comprehensive medical, mental health, and dental services.  SHAC also provides testing services (make-up exams, accommodated testing, and high-stakes exams) as well as health promotion and education services to PSU students.  Read more about services, eligibility, billing and cost on SHAC's website.
  • SHAC does not provide vision services. For a full list of community resources including low-cost vision services, visit the community resources page on the SHAC website.
  • You may also try to find additional Health resources per your zip code
  • is the official benefits website of the U.S. government that can assess your eligibility for health benefits.

Have Questions About Resources? Need Help? Want to tell you story?

Email us (the CISFS) with questions, comments, or concerns and we will return your email in 1-2 business days.  Or tell us your story about living as a student with food insecurity.  We will keep your personal information confidential, but your voice matters!

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Sign-up Assistance

Students can now receive assistance signing up for food assistance (SNAP) benefits.  An Outreach Specialist with Impact Northwest or the Multnomah County Department of Human Services will be on site twcie a week to help eligible students through the sign-up process.  There are many additional benefits that come with SNAP enrollment and remember that SNAP can be used at the Portland Farmers Market! 

  • Every Monday and Wednesday during Summer Term  
    • 12:30-2:30 in The Learning Center, 2nd Floor Millar Library, Rm. 245, w/an Impact NW Outreach Specialist. Students are seen on a walk-in, first-come/first-served basis.
    • Students are seen on a walk-in, first-come/first-served basis. 
    • You can also directly reach an Outreach Specialist with Multnomah County or Impact Northwest for assistance with your eligibility questions or SNAP sign-up assistance if you are unable to make it in to office-hours:
      • Isaura Ascensio, Community Engagement Coordinator, Youth & Family Division, Multnomah County Department of Human Services:
      • Jo Dang, SNAP/Energy Assistance Specialist, Impact NW:
    • Other possible benefits that can be discussed at these walk-in hours include utility assistance, free tax prep resources, discount cellular service, match savings accounts for college students, car loans, pet food resources, and more.


  • Arts for All: Show your Oregon Trail Card (EBT or SNAP card) and buy $ tickets to many of Portland's best music, theater and dance groups. Limit two tickets per SNAP benefit recipient. 
  • SNAP Criteria for Students in Higher Education: A link to that provides the eligibility criteria for SNAP benefits for students who are between the ages of 18 to 49 who attend higher education at least half time, as well as Q & A about student eligibility.
  • Portland Farmers Markets Fresh Exchange for SNAP Recipients and the Farmers Market Fund: Portland Farmers Markets accept EBT and some even MATCH your EBT dollars. A list of matching farmers market locations is available at the provided link.

    Free Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Every Second Monday of the Month

    Come to HARVEST SHARE every second Monday of the month. Harvest Share is a partnership with the Oregon Food Bank that brings free fresh fruits and vegetables to the students of Portland State University and the greater PSU community. This is an effort to reduce food insecurity among our students and increase access to healthy food choices.  Volunteers are also welcome!

    • When: Second Monday of the Month at Noon, rain or shine, first-come/first-served
    • Where: Outside Shattuck Hall on the Park Blocks
    • Who: All PSU Students & the PSU Community at Large
    • Note: Bring your reusable shopping bags.  Limited quantities of each kind of vegetable or fruit per person (or based on family size).  Quantities are limited.  
    • Want to Volunteer at Harvest Share? Click on tn the month for which you would like to volunteer:
      September 12, October 10, November 14, December 12

    Harvest Share Impact

    • April 13, 2015 provided 9,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to over 460 households and over 1,130 individuals from over 85 different zip codes.  Among these numbers, it was recorded that 392 students were served, 55 staff or faculty were served, and 20 community members benefited from this service (note that some students can be considered staff as well).  We also logged over 95 hours of volunteer time. 
    • May 11, 2015 provided 6,541 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to 488 households (178 returning, 310 new) and 1,299 individuals.  Of those that identified, 424 were PSU students, 40 were PSU factulty or staff, and 25 were community members.  We had 38 volunteers who contributed approximately 55 volunteer hours.
    • June 8, 2015 provided 6,937 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and bread to 435 households (185 returning, 252 new) and 1,220 individuals.  Of those that identified, 327 were students, 66 were faculty or staff, and 42 were community members.  We had 31 awesome volunteers who contributed approximately 65 volunteer hours.
    • July 13, 2015 provided 5,555 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables including some amazing beautiful bok choy to our PSU students and the greater PSU and downtown communities! We addressed the needs of 560 households (280 new, 280 returning) for a total of 1,297 individuals.  We had 40 volunteers who were deeply engaged and even one young man who just happened to pass by as he was on campus for a conference, here in town from New York, and gave 30 minutes of his time. Every last piece of fruit and veggies were given away.
    • August 10, 2015 provided 4,866 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables including some prize-winning sized zuchinnis that needed wheelbarrows to get home! We addressed the needs of 323 households (145 new, 178 returning) for a total of 847 individuals. We had 28 volunteers who gave a total of 66 volunteer hours. 
    • September 14, 2015 provided 3,897 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and addressed the needs of 360 households (167 returning, 193 new) for a total of 972 individuals. We had 27 volunteers who gave a total of 65 volunteer hours. 
    • October 12, 2015 provided 7,165 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and addressed the needs of 599 households (222 returning, 377 new) for a total of 1,581 individuals. This is a 19% increase over our busiest academic term to date. We had 60 volunteers who gave a total of 105 volunteer hours. We also had the wonderful addition of thirty-five 8th grade volunteers and their parent-chaperones from Cedar Hills Junior Hill School in Portland, Oregon who gave an hour of their time sorting food. It was such a fun time!

    Tools for Faculty & Staff

    • The CISFS has a helpful resource bookmark containing information about, PSU resources, and more. If you would like some for your department or office please email and include your Mail Code. Some will be sent to you via campus mail.
    • Here is the Harvest Share full-sheet flier to hang on our departmental bulletin board: 
    • Here is the Harvest Share quarter sheet to print, cut and distribute to students and staff: 
    • Copy and paste this into your syllabus so that PSU students know that help is available to them: "For information on food assistance and other resources please visit:"

    "In the News" & Other Opportunities

    Here is a list of educational or training opportunities as well as updates happening in politics or federal and state policies that affect students, families, and their ability to access food and services.

    • Newlell-Ching, Matt. (27, August, 2015). Food Hardship data in Oregon. Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon. Illustrates how rates of "food hardship" in Oregon are going down since the beginning of the national recession and are currently better than the national average. Offers odeas of how to continue that downward trend.
    • Food Research and Action Center, Replacing the Thrifty Food Plan in Order to Provide Adequate Allotments for SNAP Beneficiaries. Discusses the need for a more effective way to assess SNAP benefits that the U.S. Department of Agricutlure's (USDA) Thirfty Food Plan (TFP) which is the lowest costing food plan of their current four.
    • Be a STUDENT FOOD PANTRY VOLUNTEER! The PSU Student Food Pantry has seen a tremendous increase in patronage and needs more volunteer assistance. Please consider giving of your time. Sign up here.
    • The Food Recovery Network is hiring for their 2015-2016 Fellowships.  For more information go to
    • "SNAP Benefit Redemption through Farmers and Farmers Markets Show Sharp Increase"  Read the June 25, 2015 news release from the United States Department of Agriculture. 
    • Food Hero is an initiative of Oregon Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), which was developed by Oregon State University Extension Service.  Food Hero's mission is to improve the health of low-income Oregonian's through the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.  The Food Hero website has receipes; tips and tools for the kitchen,budget, cooking with kids or picky eaters, what to do with leftovers; and Food Hero offers media tools and other such resources in both English and Spanish.  It is a great website.  Plus you can register to become a Food Hero and get information right to your smart phone or digital device.
    • Harvest Share and the CISFS are featured in the Spring edition of the Oregon Food Bank's Food Matters Newsletter.  Go to the Spring 2015 newsletter and you will find us on page 2. 
    • Jessica Cole, Co-Chair of the Committee for Improving Student Food Security, testified before the House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development at the State Capitol in Salem on Wednesday, June 17 regarding student food insecurity and the work of the Commitee at PSU.  She was joined by other experts in the field and new PSU graduate and Student Food Pantry volunteer Michelle Wiley.  

    Committee Members

    Committee Member Name

    Department or Representative of...


    Ann Mestrovich

    CISFS Co-Chair; Assistant Director for Employer Relations, Advising & Career Services  

    Jessica Cole

    CISFS Co-Chair; Associate Director, Center for Student Health & Counseling 

    Amanda Nguyen

    Director, Student Financial Services 

    Mike Millard

    Learning Center 

    Ankita Guchait

    Undergraduate Student, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, Sustainability Leadership Center 

    Andrea Stafford

    PSU Alumni

    Randi Harris

    Special Assistant to the Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Student Success 

    Lisa Wittorf

    Director, Resource Center for Students with Children

    Chenae Garcia

    CARE Team Case Manager, Dean of Student Life, Enrollment Management & Student Affairs

    Tom Bull

    Executive Director of Alumni Engagement, Alumni Relations, University Advancement

    Rachel Krueger

    International Student Life Advisor, International Student & Scholar Services 

    David Martinez

    Undergraduate Student, College of Urban and Public Affairs, ASPSU Vice President

    Michele Torland Undergraduate Student, School of Social Work
    Kristian Jones Graduate Student, Division of Public Administration, Hatfield School of Government, College of Urban & Public Affairs
    Mariel Rollins