I-Bucks purchased in the 2019-20 school year will expire May 8. Local food banks suggest students who still have some left over use their meal points to buy items for donation.
Tim Clougher is the assistant director of Community Kitchen, a Bloomington organization that alleviates food insecurity in Monroe County. He said students who have extra I-Bucks should consider buying food to donate to local food banks.
“Donating food is a win-win,” Clougher said. “Students have the points they need to use, and they can cap the school year off right by helping others.”
Clougher said Community Kitchen has a donation wish-list, but most items in campus C-stores can be used for a variety of their programs.
“During the summer, we go out into 10 different low-income neighborhoods and serve lunches to kids,” Clougher said. “It would really be helpful for us to get a boost of food.”
Clougher says about 60% to 70% of meals Community Kitchen serves go to at-risk children.
“If students want to pool together donations with their roommates, hall or any sort of group, we can arrange a pickup,” Clougher said.
Donations can also be dropped off at the Community Kitchen located at 1515 S. Rogers St. from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Hoosier Hills Food Bank also serves Monroe County, as well as Owen, Brown, Martin, Lawrence and Orange counties. Ryan Jochim is the manager of volunteer services and community engagement at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.
Hoosier Hills will use most items as long as they haven’t been opened, according to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank website.
Jochim said Hoosier Hills accepts perishable items, but non-perishables are preferred.
“The items we normally ask for are canned meats, soups with meat or beans, peanut butter, ramen, boxed mac and cheese, pasta, cereal, protein bars and protein shakes,” Jochim said.
Students can also use the donation bins at the entrance to the C-stores to donate food to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.
IU senior Erik Jersild said he still has more than 300 I-Bucks set to expire.
Jersild said he already paid for the I-Bucks and couldn’t have predicted that classes would go online.
Jersild bought an I-Bucks plan for the spring semester last year, but he said that using them is an inconvenience now that most of his classes are online.
“Campus food is OK, but if you get the chance to go out with your friends to a real restaurant, it's hard to choose campus food over that,” Jersild said.
Jersild said that he’s recently been thinking about how his money might go unspent, but he doesn’t want to be wasteful and buy food he doesn’t need.
“If I'm buying a lot of items just to get rid of money, I'm probably getting stuff I don't like or need,” Jersild said. “Food waste is arguably a bigger problem than losing I-Bucks.”
Jersild said that using I-Bucks to buy items for food banks is a good idea.
“I would definitely be willing to donate if I were given a recommended shopping list,” Jersild said.