A new initiative from food service provider, Sodexo, and student food insecurity non-profit, Swipe Out Hunger, will bring the meal-swipe donation program to 100 new campuses nationwide. Following a successful pilot program, which provided more than 15,500 meals for 1,100 students during the Spring semester, the pair of organizations has announced the expansion of its Meal Swipe Bank to 100 new U.S. campuses by the end of 2021.
According to figures from Swipe Out Hunger, it’s estimated that one in three college students face food insecurity each year. With the added financial strain and stress caused by the pandemic, the organization estimates that student food insecurity has now increased by 14%.
“Students need our support. The pandemic, unfortunately, has only heightened the already pervasive state of food in-security, being faced by a third of our students,” says Tom Post, CEO, Sodexo Universities. “The Swipe Out Hunger program provides both emergency access to meals and also peace of mind for students that their campus supports them and that there are easily accessible resources should they need access to free meals.”
From Sodexo’s side, the company will work with each campus to provide meal swipes for the Meal Swipe Bank equal to the sum of fall and spring mandatory meal plans sold. Once students are enrolled in the program, these meal swipes are directly placed onto student ID cards, allowing those in need to anonymously redeem free meals on campus.
“A warm, nourishing meal can make a significant difference in the life of a college student, whether physically, mentally, financially, or academically,” says Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. “Partners like Sodexo understand how critical it is to ensure every student has access to food. Working together, we can reach even more students and ensure they have the opportunity to thrive as they earn their degree.”
The Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger pilot program launched on 12 campuses across the U.S., including Seattle Pacific University and San Francisco State University. As a result of the pilot, 80% of participating students reported experiencing less stress and 44% performed better in their classes.
Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger look forward to partnering with student leaders across the country to address campus hunger through a number of tactics, including:
- Establishing a Meal Swipe Bank on campus.
- Promoting Swipe Drives, where students can donate unused meal swipes to their peers facing food insecurity.
- Joining forces with a Food Security Task Force on campus to discuss challenges and opportunities.
- Teaming up with Dining Services to expand campus food security programs.