Last month, the University of Georgia Police Department donated to both Student Care & Outreach “Sunshine Fund” and the “Let All the Big Dawgs Eat” food scholarship initiative. The donation split for the Sunshine Fund will provide University staff resources to assist students with immediate mental well-being needs by proactively working with various off-campus partners such as counselors, therapists, and treatment centers. The other half designated for the Let All the Big Dawgs Eat food scholarship will provide two students a 7-day unlimited meal plan for an entire academic year.
UGA students have more going on in their lives than perhaps they give themselves credit for—project deadlines, independent living, approaching life after graduation are just a few. Student Care & Outreach recognizes that students have well-being needs outside the classroom. Carrie Smith, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Care & Outreach (SCO), describes her staff’s approach to helping students find their “person” while they are at UGA. “We connect students to resources they need, to listen when they don’t know where to turn, and to answer the questions they aren’t sure who to ask. We may not become their “person,” but it’s important to us that they feel they have a network of support at UGA.” explains Smith. Student Care & Outreach is known as the hub of care on campus. If in an unexpected life event occurs amid already complex circumstances, SCO understands the challenges students face and tailor their services to reflect the students’ needs.
The mission of the Sunshine Fund through the Student Care & Outreach department is to facilitate access to mental health treatment or to alleviate circumstances that may be negatively contributing to a student’s well-being. Student Care and Outreach uses the Sunshine Fund resources to connect students with mental health care providers and treatment centers, as well as any other resource the student may find helpful. Regardless their approach is not a one-size-fits-all mentality. For each student, supporting them through a difficult time looks different— as it should.
Students cannot thrive during their time at UGA if their physical needs are unmet. Anyone with a limited budget knows that eating well comes with a hefty price tag. Yet studies have shown that students who are not only well-fed but well-nourished perform better academically. The “Let All the Big Dawgs Eat” scholarship supports students who struggle to afford adequate nutrition and empowers them to concentrate on academic success without the worry of securing their next meal. Administered by the Tate Student Center, the scholarship allows students to participate in the meal plan through the University’s award-winning Food Services department. “Students can dine with their peers all across campus when they choose, as frequently as they choose, seven days a week,” further explains Jan Barham, Associate Dean of Students.
“The Food Scholarship has helped me to not worry about food insecurity,” explains one UGA student recipient, “This gave me the confidence throughout the semester that some of my needs were being met. This helped me to understand the importance of giving sacrificially. This has also helped me personally understand that my purpose here at UGA is not overlooked or forgotten and that being a Dawg means being someone who cares and is cared for.”
Apart from this donation helping students’ overall well-being, the UGA Police Department aims to connect with students one-on-one. During a special event known as “Coffee with Cops & Donuts with the Dean,” students are invited to meet with UGA Police Officers and the Dean of Students for coffee and donuts. Students can ask questions, bring up community concerns, and create a larger dialogue on what it means to be an inclusive pack.
Few know that UGAPD started this initiative to build better relationships with students pre-COVID. Then came the shutdown. After countless courageous voices protested the racial injustice across the nation in 2020-2021, the creation of a safe space for dialogue became an even greater priority for UGAPD. Even if students are shy, they are still encouraged to grab a free cup of coffee and a donut.
The next “Coffee with Cops & Donuts with the Dean” is Friday April 15th, from 9 am-11am at Tate Plaza. If you or someone you know could benefit from Student Care & Outreach services or “Let All the Big Dawgs Eat” scholarship, more information can be found below.
Student Care and Outreach
Call: (706) 542-7774
Learn more online: https://sco.uga.edu
“Let All the Big Dawgs Eat”
Learn more online: https://tate.uga.edu/food-scholarship/
Written by Amber George, Assistant to the Dean of Students for Marketing and Communication
April, 8th 2022