Basic Needs

Western Washington University, in support of its mission, values and goals, strives to provide access to basic needs for its students. The Office of Student Life, working with other key university services, seeks to support students in need and provide or connect them with essential resources, on and off campus. Western recognizes that helping address these needs is particularly important during the current pandemic. We define basic needs as the resources that address food security, housing stability, and financial sustainability.

According to a fall 2021 survey of basic needs that 1,982 Western students completed (13.3% response rate), the following findings were reported.

  • 44.7% of respondents experienced some degree of food insecurity in the past 30 days (50.7% for respondents who are students of color)
  • 32.1% of respondents experienced some degree of housing insecurity in the past 12 months (51.4% for respondents at satellite campuses)
  • 16.3% of respondents could not access needed mental health services in the past 12 months (17.2% for respondents who are students of color)
  • 13.1% of respondents did not have sufficient internet access to complete their coursework in the past 30 days
  • 4.5% of respondents are a primary caretaker of an underage dependent, including 16.8% of grad students and 36.5% of students at satellite campuses

The Basic Needs Workgroup consists of staff from Office of Student Life, Off-Campus Living, Financial Aid, Western Success Scholars program, and Counseling and Wellness. Upon referral or contact, staff offers outreach, referrals, and case management to undergraduate and graduate students. Staff work collaboratively with each other to support students in need and work regularly with all other student services to address specific student situations as well as coordinate campus efforts in this area.

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In order to arrange an intake appointment, please email student.life@wwu.edu with your name, W number, and indicate any areas of need (e.g., food insecurity, housing insecurity, financial emergency, technology need, etc.). Your information will be shared with the Basic Needs Workgroup in order to best address the stated needs. 

On Campus Resources

Campus Food Pantries

Western has seven food pantries or pocket pantries on campus open to all students and supplied in part by Miracle Food Network. In general, each pantry is open when the building is open. Contact each department or college for more information.

  • VU WHOLE Pantry (located in VU 435)
  • Fairhaven College Pantry (located on the 3rd floor of Fairhaven College)
  • CEED Food Pantry (located in Miller Hall 150)
  • Journalism Pantry (located in CF by 257)
  • Linguistics Department Pantry (located in Bond Hall 403)
  • Sociology Food Pantry (located in Arntzen Hall 510)
  • Parks Hall Pantry (located in Parks Hall 045)

EBT Card Payments

Miller Market accepts EBT cards as a form of payment for qualifying purchases. Apply for Washington Basic Food (known nationally as SNAP benefits) and receive an EBT card if you qualify. Contact WWU Dining with questions about using the EBT card, see what eligible purchases you can make with an EBT card, and apply at Washington Connection.

Outback Farm

WWU’s 5-acre, student-driven farm on south campus is a home for all students to engage in ecosystem restoration, community building, and food justice. It’s located between Fairhaven and Buchanan Towers. Engage with your campus community garden by getting a garden plot, volunteering, and picking your own free food.

Learn more about the Outback Farm here.

Swipe Out Hunger

Swipe Out Hunger allows students to request or donate meal swipes each quarter to use in the dining halls. Students need to be enrolled in classes at Western to request meals for that quarter. Learn more about Swipe Out Hunger and request meals here.

Viking Supported Agriculture

The Sustainability Engagement Institute allows students to sign up with Viva Farms to purchase a local organic produce box. It is available on a sliding scale and accepts EBT. Boxes are available for weekly pick up at High St Hall. Learn more about Western’s community supported agriculture program and sign up here.

WWU Emergency Food Funding

WWU students who need emergency food funding for a few days can seek assistance by contacting the Financial Aid Services Center.

AS Child Development Center

Provides high-quality care and education for children of student parents and working professionals of Western. Tuition for student families is based on income and is subsidized by the Associated Students. The CDC serves 56 children ages 2 – 5 each quarter. Located on the first floor of stack 11 and 12 of Fairhaven. Learn more about the AS Child Development Center

Blue Resource Center

The Blue Resource Center (BRC) is committed to affirming, celebrating, and supporting undocumented students and mixed-status families at WWU by providing education, connection, and referrals. There are several resources that can help with navigating the academic, employment, financial, and social barriers undocumented students face. Learn more at https://mss.wwu.edu/brc

Counseling and Wellness Center

Students may participate in consultations, intensive group therapy, and intensive brief individual therapy sessions, as well a number of workshops and outreach events. Appointments can be virtual or in-person at Old Main on the 5th floor. Learn more about the Counseling and Wellness Center

Disability Access Center

Any student with a physical, neurological, psychological, or sensory condition that significantly interferes with learning or participation in classes and campus activities is eligible to receive services. Accommodations are identified using an individualized and interactive process to create equal access. Learn more about the Disability Access Center and submit an application for accommodations here.

Gender Affirming Care

This team can connect you with resources, offer consultation, provide counseling, discuss non-medical affirmation, and provide support around social transition. Additionally, the GACT can share opportunities for social connection, provide information about name and gender marker changes, initiate gender affirming hormone therapy, and provide trans-affirming voice therapy. Learn more about gender affirming care at Western

Off Campus Living

Learn about the basics of renting, your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and creating community. You can receive important links on safety, commuting, and getting to know the Bellingham area. Learn more about Off Campus Living

Student Health Center

Primary care medical clinic specializing in college health. Located in the Campus Services building, the SHC provides an extensive array of services.  This includes preventive and behavioral health care, management of general health concerns, treatment of illnesses and injuries, sexual health and LGBTQ+ care. Learn more about the Student Health Center

Survivor Advocacy

A confidential resource for Western students who are experiencing or have experienced relationship (domestic, dating, intimate partner) violence or abuse, sexual violence, stalking, and/or sexual harassment. Reach out for support and learn more about Survivor Advocacy here.

Western Success Scholars

A campus-based supportive program designed to assist all incoming WWU first year, transfer, and continuing students who have experienced foster care or homelessness. Learn more about Western Success Scholars

ATUS

With funding through the Student Technology Fee, the university has several laptop loan locations and support for software and technology issues. Visit the Academic Technology and User Services (ATUS) website for more information.

Career Closet

Students/alumni can acquire free professional business attire appropriate for job or grad school interviews, networking events, career fairs, or for any reason that professional attire may be needed by shopping at the Career Closet, part of Career Services, which is a free, forever resource for students/alumni to use. Schedule an appointment at the Career Services Center in Old Main 280 or call 360-650-3240 to visit the Career Closet.

Emergency Financial Aid Funding

Provides assistance to help WWU students alleviate or minimize an unforeseen financial burden. Criteria includes being enrolled the quarter a student is seeking funding, the financial hardship occurring during the academic year, and generally all other aid as applied in the FAFSA or WASFA being accepted. Learn more and apply at the Scholarship Center.

Financial Aid

The financial aid staff make every effort to help eligible students meet their educationally related financial needs through grants, scholarships, student employment, loans, and other aid programs. Contact the Financial Aid Services Center to learn more and make an appointment.

Job Search Resources

Looking for employment? Use Financial Aid’s Student Employment site or Career Service’s Handshake to look for on or off campus employment. Apply for jobs with WWU Dining Services through the careers page for Aramark to work at campus dining or retail locations

Resident Reuse Program

On-campus residents can rent approved appliances and items that were donated by previous residents free of charge. Priority reservations for long-term checkouts exist for international, out-of-state, first generation, and Pell grant recipients. Learn more, see the inventory, and complete the reservation form here.

Short-Term Emergency Housing

The Office of Student Life can issue a room on campus in a temporary space when someone needs short-term, emergency housing. While individual situations are discussed, common reasons why someone requests emergency housing includes if a student is in between leases, is fleeing domestic violence, has a facilities emergency, or otherwise does not have a stable and secure housing option. In addition, a state grant can assist students experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Contact Student Life to request emergency housing and discuss potential financial options by emailing student.life@wwu.edu or calling 360-650-3706.

SMATE Resources

The Science Math and Technology Education (SMATE) has a selection of graphic calculators to any student on a first-come, first-serve basis, in addition to a limited pool of laptops that can be checked out on a short-term basis. For more information, visit SMATE Resources.

Transportation

Current students can use their Western Card as the WTA bus pass and can get unlimited rides on all WTA bus routes. In addition, the Starlight Shuttle provides Western students a late-night ride close to campus after WTA busses stop running. Learn more at the Transportation Services website.

VITA Tax Assistance

Need assistance with preparing and filing taxes? Visit the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, typically from February through April of each year.

Community Resources

Affordable Connectivity Program

The ACP is a federal program that helps low-income households pay for broadband service and internet connected devices. Review eligibility and apply online here.

Basic Food Application (SNAP Benefits)

If you or your family needs support buying groceries, Basic Food is for you. Also known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Basic Food helps Washingtonians by providing monthly benefits to buy food. There is a program in Washington State for non-citizens called the Food Assistance Program that provides food benefits for anyone who is not eligible for basic food because of immigration status but would otherwise meet eligibility. Apply for those programs at Washington Connection. To receive assistance in the application process, call the Family Food Help Line at 1-888-436-6392

Goodwill Connect

  • Goodwill Connect is a collaboration of Washington State Goodwills that promote digital equity by providing a free Google Chromebook to Washington residents. Individuals who are at least 18, are looking for employment or continuing education, and have an economic need can apply. Application reviews are conducted by digital navigators to determine eligibility. To apply, call 844-492-6663, and learn more here.

Bellingham Food Bank

Located on 1824 Ellis Street in downtown Bellingham. Anyone is able to shop for food on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays from 10am – 6pm. Anyone can visit as often as needed and a proof of address is not needed. A drive through option is open at Christ the King Church Tuesday afternoons, and a home delivery option is available on Fridays. Learn more about the Bellingham Food Bank

Ferndale Food Bank

Located at 1671 Main Street in Ferndale by the Ferndale Station Park and Ride (one of the stops on WTA’s 27 bus), this location is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 9am – 11am while supplies last. Individuals and families are able to visit once per week. Learn more about the Ferndale Food Bank

Food and Meal Resource Guide

Check out the Food and Meal Resource Guide, an updated list of local food banks and meal programs in Whatcom Country, organized by the Whatcom Asset Building Coalition.

Miracle Food Network (MFN)

MFN collects surplus food from area grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, which is then sorted and strategically distributed to points in the local area. MFN supplies weekly donations to the Western food pantries in the 22 – 23 academic year, and they have many distribution points in the country as found on the Miracle Food Network website.

Law Advocates

Law Advocates strives to provide free civil legal assistance to low-income Whatcom County residents by linking them with attorney and community volunteers. Learn more about Law Advocates

Northwest Justice Project

Northwest Justice Project provides critical civil legal assistance and representation to thousands of low-income people in cases affecting basic human needs such as family safety and security, housing preservation, protection of income, access to health care, and education. Learn more about the Northwest Justice Project

Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC)

The WDRC offers conflict prevention and intervention services for businesses, organizations, individuals, and families. It also facilitates the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program to help landlords and tenants resolve nonpayment of rent cases through dispute resolution and access to rental assistance and legal aid. Learn more about the WDRC

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS)

The mission of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services is to support individuals affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation. Advocacy counseling, walk-in services, support during medical exams, and safety planning are all some of the resources available. Learn more at the DVSAS website or call 1-877-715-1563

Northwest Youth Services

A non-profit organization serving young people ages 13 – 24 experiencing homelessness in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. They offer housing, street outreach, help finding a job or enrolling in school, connection to mental health services, support for LGBTQ youth, and restorative justice for juvenile offenders. Learn more about Northwest Youth Services

Opportunity Council

An agency serving homeless and low income families and individuals in northwest Washington. The mission is to help people improve their lives through education, support, and direct assistance while advocating for just and equitable communities. Services include rental assistance, child care, energy assistance, job skills, preschool and head start, and other basic needs services. Learn more at the following links: