The most important piece that goes into launching a meal donation program is the pitch to Dining Services. Your first meeting with your dining administrator will either have them fall in love or slamming the door. Below, you’ll find a winning formula for your pitch.
1. Research everyone copied on your email thread and learn how long and in what capacities the administrators you're meeting with have been working on campus.
2. Introduce who you are and why you’re proposing to implement a meal sharing program. Ask if they’ve heard of Swipe Out Hunger.
3. Explain what Swipe Out Hunger is and how the program works.
- Explain that this is a national program that started at UCLA and has been recognized by the White House + President Obama as a Champion of Change. Reaffirm the organization’s legitimacy by mentioning that the UC system commissioned the program to launch on all 9 of its undergraduate campuses.
- Explain how it works on other schools like UCLA, Northwestern, and UPenn.
4. Describe how it could look specifically at your university.
- Propose examples of where and how your donation drives will be held.
- Explain which meal plans would be eligible to donate.
- Describe where the funds will go.
- Highlight how it falls in line with campus culture and the support you have from particular student groups.
5. WHY! (The community has a need that can be alleviated by this program).
- Share some statistics about hunger among college students or the local community and reference the programs you’d like to donate to. Make sure you know what the program you want to support does and who it serves. It typically is either a meal credit program to support students, a food pantry on campus that serves students and staff, or a reputable food bank or shelter near campus, preferably one that allows students to volunteer.
6. Acknowledge you’re asking a lot from them and mention incentives for the university to adopt the program.
- If funds are allocated to feed students facing hunger, it improves student success in class and retention rates. If there is already a campus food bank or meal voucher program, Swipe Out Hunger can be an additional source of funding for that program. Keeping the funds on campus is hard for the school to reject!
- If some donations are distributed to an off-campus program, it provides support to the surrounding community and strengthens the university’s relationship to that community.
- It enables students to practice philanthropy and engage alumni.
- It connects the university with a network of change makers recognized by the White House, and with schools such as Northwestern, UCLA, and UPenn.
- It is an ongoing collaborative partnership that unifies students and administrators.
7. Hand them the proposal and ask– “How can we partner to engage students in alleviating campus hunger?” They might express a financial or logistical challenge they anticipate. Remember, your objective is to build a meal donation program into your school’s system, so prepare to respond to rejection.
- If the school states the budget can’t support the program:
- Suggest capping the first drive (meaning how much each student can give or what the total max the school gives is) and negotiate growth every year from there. Ask them how much they would be able to give to identify how much money is in their extra reserve.
- Propose a conversion rate. Although a meal may cost $9, maybe they are more able to give 30-75% of each dollar. This leaves a cushion in case the funds have already been allocated, and still leaves you with something to donate.
- Campuses have marketing budgets and in the past, some schools have used these funds as donations on behalf of Swipe Out Hunger as the program naturally leads to positive local and national press for the school and dining operator. Click here to see an article that highlights the Swipes program at University of Minnesota and click here to see one about the program at University of Southern Mississippi.
- If the school is concerned the program will require too much staff time:
- Suggest moving the donation process online. If students can already reload and track their meals on their student account, request an additional button that allows them to donate their swipes. If students all use a common mobile app, there may be room for integration there. (Let us know if your campus uses Tapingo).
- If the school is concerned about protecting students’ identities:
- Assure them that only your team will collect information and drop it off at the close of each day’s drive. Let them know only members of your group who are carefully selected will have access to the forms.