In the Spring of 2016, four leading research groups teamed up to study food insecurity among undergraduates. Out of 3,800 students from 34 schools across 12 states, 48% experienced food insecurity the previous month. Of these food insecure students, 64% also experienced housing insecurity, and 32% reported hunger and housing problems impacted their education. Food insecurity even affected students who had a job, a meal plan, and/or other financial help.
In the national discourse and among college students in particular, people seem more willing to share almost any personal fact about themselves than the amount of money they have in the bank. People are very uncomfortable talking about their finances which perpetuates a culture of insecurity and stigma.
Throughout November, Swipe Out Hunger will launch a national campaign that aims to:
- Raise awareness about the prevalence of food insecurity and other financial hardships that many college students face.
- Raise awareness about how uncomfortable and stigmatizing it may be for financially distressed students to open up to others and seek assistance.
- Engage the community in developing strategies to reduce this discomfort and stigma.
- Publicize the local services on each campus that support food insecure students.
- Break the record of meals pledged to end hunger.
The tagline for this campaign is, “Every College Student Has Insecurities. We Believe Food Shouldn’t Be One of Them.” We are excited to have the support of your chapter to ensure the success of this launch!
In order to engage community members on your campus about student food insecurity and the associated stigma, your team can set up a table in the dining center, approach students, and ask them to write on a big piece of paper a topic they are more comfortable discussing publicly than their personal finances.
After they write the topic, you can ask them the following reflection questions:
Why do you think it’s easier to talk about that topic than it is to talk about money?
If you couldn’t afford food, would you feel comfortable asking for help?
What would make you insecure about this? What would it take to make you more comfortable?
Next demonstrate the prevalence of hunger among college students. You can display statistics on posters and have a jar of jellybeans, where each bean represents a dollar amount. You can ask students to guess how many are in the jar, and the answer could be how much money your chapter collected last year to fight hunger.
Finally, ask students to pledge to donate swipes at your next drive. Photograph them holding a small white board that says, “I’d rather talk about ____ than my finances” and post it on social media (see the Social Media Messaging guide below). Tell them to visit swipehunger.org/pledge and pledge to give their swipes at your next drive. The day before your drive we will send them a reminder. Finally, hand them a flyer with more information (see the Flyer Guide below).
Checklist of Materials for Tablers to Have During Each Shift
- 1 large piece of butcher paper
- Small white board
- Laminates that say “I’d rather talk about ______ than my finances.”
- White board friendly markers
- Copies of a flyer about the campaign (see guide below)
- Visual representation of statistics (via posters, jar of jellybeans, etc.)
- Smart phone with a camera
- Laptop where students can pledge or a large printed link to swipehunger.org/pledge
Social Media Messaging Guide
- Thee days before you launch the campaign, share our national countdown photo (above) on your instagram and facebook. In the description explain what the campaign is and why your chapter is participating. Include a link to swipehunger.org/pledge.
- 1-2 times before the campaign, share the campaign graphics (below).
- Throughout the campaign, share photos of the words students have written on the butcher paper, and photos of the students holding the small white boards. Tag Swipe Out Hunger and use these hashtags: #swipeinsecurity #swipeouthunger.
An example of a flyer for students to take away from your table is included below. Plug in the following details to customize it:
- Your school
- Respective social media or site where they can find you
- A description of the campus program that will be funded by student donations
- Powerful statistics about the issue (see graphics above)
- The campaign slogan and these hashtags: #swipeinsecurity #swipeouthunger
- A photo of your team
Next Steps For Your Chapter
- PLAN: tell us when and how long your campaign will occur.
- SET GOALS: tell us how many students you aim to engage/ you expect will pledge.
- MARKET: alert the campus newspaper and media that you are launching this campaign.
- SHARE: tell us what content you want us to include in the reminder email that we will send to students who pledge to donate their swipes. We will add branding and logos.
- DESIGN: customize a flyer to handout at your table using the guide above.
- SCHEDULE: create a sign up sheet for your members to select tabling shifts.
- PREPARE: compile tabling materials using the list above and create an easy system for students to access them before their shift.
- INFORM: make sure that every team member who tables is prepared to explain the support services that exist on campus for students in need.