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The Student Food Pantry is located on 19th Avenue and Emerald Street and is available for students Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at 4 p.m. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

With the cost of tuition, books and rent, it’s not always easy to afford a healthy and balanced diet while pursuing a higher education. According to data from the Census Bureau,, 21% of Eugene residents are below the poverty line; however, there are several opportunities available for finding nutritional support around Eugene.

One of the largest food resources for students is the Student Food Pantry, a partner endeavor by the Episcopal Campus Ministry and the nonprofit Food for Lane County. Doug Hale, the director of the pantry, said that he considers the program more than just a food donation center.

“It's not just about bringing food in, getting it organized and then getting it out,” Hale said. “It's about touching people's lives.”

More than anything, Hale said he wants students to know that the space is welcoming and available for anyone who needs it.

“People who come on a regular basis, they become people that we know. It definitely becomes a gathering place,” Hale said. “That initial step of reaching your neck out a little bit is tough, but once people do that, they find out that it’s just a welcoming place."

The Student Food Pantry is an equal opportunity provider, welcoming all Eugene-based students with either access to Canvas or their student IDs. The Student Food Pantry, located at 1329 E 19th Ave., is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m.

There is potential for the location of the pantry to change, as it is in the process of solidifying a newer and larger building.

“It's grown quite a bit. What we're wanting to do is move into a bigger facility so that we can have more food, so that we can serve more students,” Hale said. “We'd like to be open more than two days a week." Updates about the pantry’s potential move will be posted to the Student Food Pantry blog and Facebook page.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a nationwide federal aid program that students can use for nutritional support. SNAP allows students to use a “trail card” to purchase groceries at stores across the state. The card has an allotted amount of funds on it, eligible to be spent only on unprepared food items, and the amount on the card can be refilled monthly. Those who have been awarded work study or meet the criteria listed on the website are eligible for SNAP.

Produce Drop is also available exclusively to UO students. In the EMU Amphitheater from 3-5 p.m. on every second and fourth Thursday of the month, fresh fruits and vegetables are free for students who meet the financial criteria listed on the Produce Drop website.

Produce Drop was created by the UO Student Sustainability Center and Food for Lane County. The process is similar to a farmer’s market, except it’s free to those who are qualified.

The UO has a list of nutritional support resources, including these, on its food security website tab.