Have Extra Flex? Flex-For-A-Cause

As the end of the semester rolls around, everyone is scrambling to spend their leftover Flex, the money on their student account that can only be used at the restaurants or pantries on campus, since it will expire if not used by the end of the semester. If you happen to have some Flex left and you aren’t sure you have room for 12 more bags of Doritos in your dorm, maybe consider participating in this year’s Flex-For-A-Cause starting on Friday!


Flex-For-A-Cause is an annual event hosted by UK’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega in partnership with UK Dining. Students purchase non-perishable food items from the Wildcat Pantries on campus and place them in one of the donation boxes there. These donations will then be distributed by the end of finals week to local organizations on campus and in the Lexington community such as Big Blue Pantry and God’s Pantry to address the issue of food insecurity.


UK’s Food Access and Housing Survey defines food insecurity as the “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods due to lack of financial resources.” Food insecurity has been a major topic of discussion on campus this semester, and the Basic Needs Campaign examined this issue and decided to work towards a solution after discovering the survey’s 2018 results found 43 percent of students experienced some form of this insecurity.


Those students were then categorized as either having low food security, which the survey defines as “reduced quality, variability, and desirability of diets but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted,” or hungry/very low food security, which they define as “eating patterns were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money or other resources for food.” Survey results found 24 percent of UK students were experiencing low food security and 19 percent fell into the hungry/very low food security category.


These issues have consequences beyond poor nutrition; they can result in deteriorating mental health and serve academic distraction. After weeks of campaigning, a hunger strike, and sit in, President Capilouto agreed to fund the Basic Needs Campaign’s request for a Basic Needs Center staffed by a full-time employee and the request to establish a Basic Needs Fund. In further efforts, the campus has since opened up the ONE community cafe to offer $1 meals to students.


Though the Basic Needs Campaign’s requests were met, food insecurity is not an issue that can be solved in a matter of a few weeks. Flex-For-A-Cause gives students a direct way to get involved and make an impact on this issue that hits close to home for nearly half of UK students.


If you are interested in donating to Flex-For-A-Cause, the event kicks off this Friday April 19th and runs until May 1st with donation boxes at 3 Wildcat Pantry locations (the 90, JSB, and Holmes Hall) on campus!