WSU Greek donation to alleviate meal debt in Pullman schools

By Steve Nakata, Student Affairs

The Greek community at Washington State University Pullman has donated more than $10,000 to the Pullman School District to help alleviate meal debt.

The Pullman School District’s Board of Directors met to accept the gift during its April 24 meeting.

“It is a phenomenal amount of giving,” said Dan Welter, director of the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life. “To see our students be able to change lives like this is great.”

Meal debt accrues within the school district when there is not enough money in a student’s account to pay for their lunches, and in some schools, a hot breakfast. No child is ever denied food or “shamed” if their meal account runs in the negative.

Hadynn McCormick, Panhellenic vice president of philanthropy and service, said she is proud of the teamwork and dedication students displayed during Greek Week, March 25-29, when all 53 Greek organizations banded together to raise money for a single cause.

As someone who attended schools in an area where poverty is prevalent, McCormick was pleased when members of the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Community, and Multicultural Greek Council voted unanimously to use the money raised to alleviate school meal debt in the Pullman community.

“What we’re seeing in Pullman Public Schools is indicative of a greater issue nationwide with more than one in five children facing childhood food insecurity in the United States,” McCormick said.  “I know how difficult and stressful it can be for many families to see another bill land on the kitchen table, and if we can alleviate that stress in any way, our purpose is to make a positive impact in the lives of others.”

Members of Pi Beta Pi promoted their fundraising causes on the Terrell Mall during Greek Week

Giving back part of the culture

Greek Week is an annual event that encourages students to collaborate across chapters and build spirit and camaraderie in the community. Welter said it is an opportunity for students to showcase the value they bring to the greater community.

McCormick said one way they accomplish this is by taking their collaboration beyond the campus to local businesses and organizations. In addition to raising money for Pullman schools, students partnered with community organizations to donate food to the Cougar Food Pantry, conducted a book drive for Neil Public Library, supplied goods for the Alternative to Violence of the Palouse prom drive, and donated enough blood to save 160 lives.

Greek students give back to the community in many forms, and it happens throughout the academic year. McCormick said Greek students contributed over $80,000 to local and national philanthropic organizations last year, but they also performed more than 15,000 hours of community service. Their volunteer services give an essential boost to local and regional organizations that serve the elderly, youth, people facing food insecurity, and much more.

“We often tell our students that may not feel they can make much impact individually, but our community is 3,200 students strong,” Welter said. “Together, they can and do make a huge impact as the donation to the Pullman School District shows.”

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