How We Feed People
Below, you'll find common questions from students as they develop their chapter.
How exactly does the program work? The program will vary from campus to campus but the basic run down is:
(1) Students provide information about how many remaining meal points they want to donate
(2) Swipe Out Hunger then turns this information into dining where they will be tallied up
(3) Dining services will write a check, order food, or create vouchers according to the agreed upon conversion rate
(4) Swipes members will typically volunteer at the beneficiary organization and drop off the food or check
How do students donate? Traditionally, students provide their name, ID number, signature and the number of swipes they’d like to donate at an end of the semester/quarter Swipes drive. Swipes Drives are held at the end of each term and tables are set up outside of dining halls during meal times. Schools where students are able to manage their meal account online allow students to make donations virtually when administration allows.
What does being an official Swipe Out Hunger chapter mean? As a chapter, you join a national network of community members on college campuses committed to ending hunger and encouraging other Universities to take responsibility for this issue too. You will also have access to connect and collaborate with other student leaders to learn best practices. On a national level, our Headquarters is here to provide guidance if issues arise and help take the organization to the next step once you’re on your feet! We’ll help promote your chapter's work by providing social media support and marketing materials (such as shirts, stickers, and flyers). Review this chapter introduction to learn more about the benefits and responsibilities involved in developing a Swipe Out Hunger chapter.
When should student group registration happen? Do this when you think it makes the most sense. Some campuses register once Dining Services gives them the approval. Some campuses register as a student group beforehand which might give them a bit more structure and perceived legitimacy when walking into the meeting. You can decide what makes sense based on how easy it is to register as a student group at your school.
How long does it take to establish a meal donation program on my campus? This depends on the flexibility of your campus administration and Dining Company. It can range from one month to an entire semester. We’re here to help make sure it is as smooth and timely as possible. Check out a sample timeline below.
Below you'll find common questions and concerns raised by dining.
1. Problem: Our budget can’t support this, we expect students to have remaining Swipes.
Solution: Conversion Rate. This is a valid concern; campuses create their budgets expecting a certain number of meals to not be cashed in. We’ve addressed this with the conversion rate. Although a meal may cost $9, you can ask dining for a percentage of this, (30-75%) is about average. This allots enough funding to account for their expected revenue and still leaves you with a decent amount of food. Another solution is to change their expected costs. Have dining only serve PB&J sandwiches and ramen (or other low cost foods) the last Friday of each month. This will help free up additional funds that can then be donated, but what's even more exciting is that students will become more aware of their consumption and the surplus that exists on campus versus what food insecure individuals face daily. Yeah, it'll suck for students, but isn't that the point?
2. Problem: It looks poorly on the university to be allocating funds to outside donors in a time of campus wide budget cuts.
Solution: Donate to Food Insecure Students. Propose the idea of donating the food to an on campus food closet. This way the food is going back to supporting fellow students. Throw out terms like “Bruins helping Bruins” or “Trojans helping Trojans.” This also brings attention to the homeless and hunger issue that is on most campuses, bringing major positive PR for the University. If your campus does not have a food closet, propose developing a meal voucher program or donating to a student group on campus who already does volunteer work or food distribution. If a student group already has a strong partnership with a beneficiary organization then present the possibility of supporting that student group’s mission by allocating the collected food or money to them. Make sure it is clear the effort will be a partnership between Swipe Out Hunger and Dining services.
3. Problem: This new program will require too much of our staff time.
Solution: The program only calls for additional work for a few days once every term. Be understanding, but bring the conversation back to the larger picture. Highlight how the investment of just a few hours will support the community. Another option is to propose moving the donation process online. On some campuses, students are able to reload and track their meals on their student account. Request dining to add an additional option that allows students to donate Swipes. This is also a chance to team up with your school's computer science or computer programming department to help with adding the button to the site.
4. Problem: How will you protect the student’s identity?
Solution: Ensure that all information collected at drives will be kept completely confidential and released back to the school at the end of each collection day. Let them know that only members of your group will have access to the forms. If they are concerned about students using someone else’s identity then let them know you will require all students to present a photo ID that matches the information they have provided.
5. Problem: Where are these funds even going?
Solution: Make sure the food and funds are directly able to assist those facing hunger. The donation center should be a reputable organization and if possible on or near campus to allow students to volunteer at the center easily.