Food Resources

Access to healthy, nutritious food is a critical part of life. The Tufts community values taking action to solve important issues and being supportive of each other’s needs. When circumstances arise that interfere with access to food, our community comes together to support one another.

Short-Term Resources 

Free Food e-List

One way to provide access to food is to ensure that food we already have is not wasted. To that end, all members of the Tufts community are invited to use the Free Food e-List.  When student organizations, large events, departments, offices, or others have events and there are meals remaining at the end of the event, they can send an email to freefoodattufts [at] elist.tufts.edu.  Everyone who has signed up for the distribution list receives the invitation to come get the described food. An extra pizza at the end of a study session, bagels and coffee ordered for a staff meeting that was cancelled, or remaining meals following a large catered event are all of value to people in our community and can be offered with the Free Food e-List.

Please be aware that perishable food is not safe to eat if it has not been at proper temperatures for more than four hours. For most perishable foods, proper temperature is either below 40˚F (i.e., refrigerated) or above 140˚F (i.e., cooking). See information about food safety from the CDC. Given this, please send your email to the Free Food e-list as soon as possible to allow people to pick up and consume the food during the safe window of time.

Eligibility and Details

  • The Free Food e-list started as a joint initiative of the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative and the TCU Senate.

  • The Free Food e-list is available to all members of the Tufts community – students, faculty, and staff.  Free food offered is typically on the Medford/Somerville or Fenway campuses.

  • Any amount of food and any type of food is acceptable to offer—from a few snacks to a large number of full-size meals.

  • Event organizers are invited to offer their remaining food to members of the community either during their event or immediately after.  Anyone (subscribed to the e-list or not) can send a message to freefoodattufts [at] elist.tufts.edu to offer free food.  In your message, please include:

    • Description of food available (or a photo)
    • Location where people should come to get the food
  • Please be respectful with this e-list and use it only for its intended purpose.  If posting the list on a public website, please use techniques to prevent it from being scrapped.  This helps prevent spam messages being sent to the list.

Sign up for the Free Food e-List

Swipe It Forward!

Swipe It Forward is a combined initiative of Tufts Dining, TCU Senate, the FIRST Center, and Student Affairs to provide an efficient way for students who may be having difficulty finding their next meal receive quick, short-term access to the high quality, nutritious food already available on campus. Tufts Dining seeds the meal bank at the start of each semester, and students may donate meals from their meal plans throughout the semester.

Eligibility and Details

  • Any student with a meal plan can donate meals. Donations are accepted throughout each semester. Because we want those with a meal plan to take care of their own nutrition first, each person may donate up to six meals per semester. All donated meals are added to the Swipe it Forward bank. Please note the processing time of donations may take up to 14 business days. If your meal swipe balance is low, donations may not be processed. To check your balance, visit the JumboCash website.

  • All undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences, the SMFA at Tufts, and the School of Engineering are eligible to receive meals from the Swipe it Forward bank, regardless of whether they purchased a meal plan during that semester or not. Meals will only be added to the accounts of people who have a balance of five or less meals at the time of request. If you have an existing balance of meals larger than that, plan to use your existing meals before requesting meals from the Swipe it Forward bank. Because Swipe it Forward is intended to address short-term food access needs, an individual student can receive a maximum of 10 meals per semester.

  • Once meals are added to a recipient’s account balance via Swipe It Forward, the meals can be redeemed at Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center and Fresh at Carmichael Dining Center. You can also redeem the meals at certain retail food locations. Details available from Tufts Dining.

  • Requests for swipes are processed within two business days of a completed submission.

Donate a meal    Request a meal

Meal Support during Academic Breaks

During Thanksgiving break and spring break, the dining centers close while the residence halls remain open. Students who rely on the dining centers for their daily food access, meet certain eligibility criteria, and are staying in the area during the break period will have supplemental funding provided to access food even though the dining centers are closed.

Break meal support is generally not provided during winter break because the residence halls close and students are generally not permitted to be on campus during winter break. Students who are required to be on campus during break for a university activity (e.g., students returning from break early from required training) often have meals provided by the department or program organizing the training. Students who receive exceptional housing on campus during winter break due will receive information about break food access from Student Affairs.

Break meal support is not provided during summer sessions because the dining centers are open. Students living on or near campus during the summer should generally plan to use their summer income and our provided tips about shopping and cooking on a budget for meals. Students are also advised to contact Student Affairs for coaching and support as needed.

Eligibility and Details

Thanksgiving break and spring break meal support is open to any undergraduate or graduate student in the School of Arts and Sciences, the SMFA at Tufts, or the School of Engineering who:

  • Has a meal plan during the semester the break occurs.

  • Is awarded financial aid by Tufts with an annual expected family contribution of $10,000 or less.

  • Is going to be on campus or in the local area during the break.

Students who meet the first two criteria will be contacted by the Student Affairs team via email about two weeks before the break begins. Students who meet those criteria and will be around campus during the break period complete a sign up and then receive a Meal Money credit. Meal money works like JumboCash or Rhino Bucks except that only food can be purchased (whereas JumboCash and Rhino Bucks also allow the purchase of certain other supplies, loads of laundry, etc.). Students use the Meal Money during the break at vendors that accept JumboCash or Rhino Bucks.

Contact Student Affairs

Food Emergency Fund for International Students 

The International Center (I-Center) has a small pool of funding available to support the short-term food access for undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences (including the SMFA) and the School of Engineering who are on an F- or J-student visa. 

Contact the I-Center

Graduate Student Meal Tickets 

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and the School of Engineering (SoE) graduate programs office have a limited number of free meal tickets they can provide to graduate students who contact them. Meal tickets allow the student to get one free meal in the Tufts dining halls. 

Contact GSAS Dean's Office    Contact SoE Graduate Programs Office

Long-Term and Ongoing Resources

Meal Plans 

Tufts Dining serves healthy, fresh, nutritious food daily, so having a meal plan is a great way to ensure consistent access to food.  All undergraduate students have the cost of a premium meal plan included in their “total cost of attendance” and thus resulting financial aid packages. Interested students are encouraged to talk with their financial aid counselor about how to use their financial aid to maximize access to food. There are a range of meal plans to choose from. We encourage you to select one that will meet your food needs and preferences. 

Tufts Dining also offers meal plans tailored to graduate students, faculty, and staff. 

View current meal plans   Schedule a consultation with your financial aid counselor 

Individualized Food Access Coaching

Some students will find that their food access is unsustainable over the long term, and the short-term resources described above do not meet their need.  In this situation, staff members are available to meet with you to create an individualized plan for food and nutrition security. Student Affairs staff, in consultation with your financial aid counselor, can work with you to understand your situation, review available resources, and help you create a sustainable plan.  Plans might include strategies to improve spending habits, applying for SNAP or other public benefits, or learning affordable ways to purchase and prepare healthy food.  Individualized coaching is available to all undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences, the SMFA at Tufts, and the School of Engineering. Contact Student Outreach and Support via email to sign up for an appointment or call at 617-627-3158. 

Contact Student Outreach and Support

Resources Outside Tufts

One of the advantages of being at Tufts is our placement in communities that care about and support their residents.  Students are welcome to consider contributing to and receiving from the many sources of support in our host communities. 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an initiative funded by the U.S. federal government which provides people who qualify with an EBT card which can be used at grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and other locations to purchase food.  In Massachusetts, SNAP is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance

In August 2022, Massachusetts expanded eligibility criteria and reduced paperwork requirements for college students to make it easier for students to get access to SNAP benefits. Students who find that financial aid package offered from Tufts and the other university resources described above, combined, do not meet their needs (for example, because they have dependents) are encouraged to review the SNAP eligibility criteria and apply for benefits if needed. 

Apply for SNAP benefits

Resources near the Medford/Somerville Campus

  • Free farmstand, 50 Cherry St., Somerville 

  • Project SOUP, a food pantry and soup kitchen, 165 Broadway, Somerville 

Resources near Fenway Campus

 

Let us know about updated resources! Please email us if you find additional resources that should be listed on this page.

Food Solutions Coalition 

The Food Solutions Coalition is a group of students, faculty, and staff who are actively working to improve food access for students. You are welcome to reach out to any member of the coalition with suggestions, questions, and ideas. 

2022-2023 Coalition Membership

  • Julian Agyeman, Professor, Interim Chair, and Fletcher Professor of Rhetoric and Debate, Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning 

  • Bárbara Brizuela, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences, Professor of Education 

  • Nischeena Charles, Website Manager, Student Affairs 

  • Jackie Dejean, Assistant Dean of Research for the School of Arts and Sciences, Assistant Dean for Diversity & Inclusion for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 

  • Emily Ding, Assistant Director of the Asian American Center 

  • Kim Ellwood, Program Coordinator, School of Engineering 

  • Arielle Galinsky, A24, Vice President of Tufts Community Union 

  • Meaghan Hardy Smith, Director of Financial Aid 

  • Natasha Keces, 2G, Social Chair, Graduate Student Council 

  • Patti Klos, Director, Tufts Dining 

  • Kevin Kraft, Associate Dean of Student Affairs 

  • Vernon Miller, Director of the Indigenous Center 

  • Camille Minns, 2G, Environmental Policy & Planning 

  • Ayomide Oloyede, A25, First Generation College Student Community Senator, TCU 

  • Wenimo Poweigha, Associate Director, Financial Aid 

  • Andy Shiotani, Director, International Center 

  • Angy Sosa, Associate Director of Residential Operations, Residential Life and Learning 

  • Nicolas Stewart, 2G, Environmental Policy & Planning 

  • Nadia Vargas, Associate Director, Student Outreach and Support 

  • Ian Wong, Director, Health Promotion and Prevention 

  • Pomai Yamaguchi, 2G, Student Life Chair, Graduate Student Council