CafeteriaStudents700The Spelman Student Government Association is helping students in two areas that matter most – books and meals. Dedicated to helping meet students’ financial needs, SSGA has disbursed more than $30,000 in awards to Spelman students since the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year. To date, eight students have received the True Blue Book Award, valued at $250 each. A merit-based scholarship, students are required to submit an essay detailing their campus involvement and why they are seeking the award. Rounding out the awards is the Aramark Dining Services Award, which is given to off-campus students. Totaling approximately $20,000, the award is given to 10 students who demonstrate financial need and have a 3.0 or higher GPA. Students must submit a transcript and letter of recommendation.

According to SSGA President Morgan Pierce, C’2010, this year’s dining services award disbursement marks the highest amount ever given to students by SSGA. Pierce credits Jean Burke, Aramark food service director at Spelman, for extending the award this semester to 10 additional students who need it the most. These awards total an additional $17,000.

“Instead of turning people away, Mr. Burke is trying to accommodate people, and that’s something we’re really grateful for,” said Pierce, noting that all awards are funded from fees charged to Market Friday vendors. “We’re trying to give back to students, so this really helps.”

Burke said he wanted to do his part to help. Calling it a “one-time opportunity,” Burke said some of his staff actually agreed to give up one meal per shift so that students can eat. Some employees, he said, forfeit meals altogether, allowing even more students the opportunity for a good meal.

“It’s my way of giving back, especially in these tough economic times,” he said. “A lot of off-campus students told me they didn’t have discretionary funds and couldn’t afford to eat on campus. The idea is to provide a means for students to eat, do their studies, and then get back home.” – Alicia Lurry is the senior communications specialist for the Office of Communications.