Q: How does Swipe Out Hunger work?
A: Swipe Out Hunger is a national nonprofit committed to ending college student hunger. It advises colleges and universities on the design of commonsense and innovative anti-hunger programs. We do this in the following ways:
Expanded Access to Food: The most commonly adopted model is the organization’s flagship program, “The Swipe Drive,” which allows students to donate their extra meal plan swipes to their peers who face food insecurity on campus. At some campuses, donations from the drive can also be allocated to help stock the campus food pantry.
Legislation: In 2017, Swipe Out Hunger was called upon as the guiding author on a trailblazing piece of California legislation, the Hunger-Free Campus bill, that sent $7.5 million directly to college campuses across the state. The bill has been renewed each year and has since led to more than $20 million to support public colleges and universities in the state. In 2019, the state of New Jersey replicated our Hunger-Free Campus bill, which demonstrates the promising yet untapped potential of governmental funds to be allocated for college students’ needs and how college student hunger has been increasingly acknowledged across the nation.
Support for Campus Leaders: We work directly with the advocates on the ground to ensure that they have all of the tools in place to launch a Swipe Out Hunger program. This includes supporting both campus administrators in addition to students with education, coaching, and leadership opportunities: For student leaders, we guide them in their advocacy for the development of supportive programs for food insecure students and provide ongoing logistical support as they work to implement these programs. We provide them with marketing tools, organizing support, and anti-stigma campaigns to start and deepen the conversation on their campus. We also invite them to participate in national convenings and seek to empower them to be leaders in the national movement to end college student hunger. By engaging students, we are able to create grassroots, student-driven programs.
For administrators, we support them not only with providing knowledge and best practices, but also with building an infrastructure to better support their students. This extends beyond meal sharing programs and includes encouraging campus advocates to enroll students in SNAP/CalFresh. By engaging the administration, we are able to create sustainable, permanent programs.
Increased Awareness: The issue of college student hunger has been increasingly more visible over the last few years, evident in the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on college student hunger, released in January 2019. Even with increased attention to this issue, many still do not understand the nature of the issue or just how prevalent this is on college campuses– and furthermore, that there are solutions in place to solve this. We are committed to serving as a voice of student hunger to the public and increasing awareness among key audiences.
Q: I’m a student advocate. How do I get a program started?
A: Please fill out our interest form and a member of our staff will be in touch with you within a few business days. We will be right there with you to provide the materials and consulting needed to launch a meal donation program at your school to benefit classmates. By joining as an affiliate of our network, you’ll have access to contacts at other universities with similar programs you could learn from and share with, plus marketing materials and t-shirts!
Q: I’m a school administrator dedicated to ending student hunger on my campus. Where do I start?
A: We love you already. Please fill out our interest form and a member of our staff will contact you. We will be right there with you to provide the materials and consulting needed to launch a meal donation program at your school. By joining as an affiliate of our network, you’ll have access to contacts at other universities with similar programs you could learn from and share with, plus marketing materials, t-shirts, and more.
Q: How are food insecure students identifying themselves to campuses so that they can access these funds?
A: We support each university with identifying and monitoring students who struggle with hunger and other basic needs. Our strategies are campus-specific and ensure students have a low barrier to accessing resources. Contact our National Programs Coordinator, Emily Kass, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a coaching call on the best outreach strategies for your campus community.
Q: I’m from a community college. Can I join the Swipe Out Hunger movement here?
A: Yes! Community colleges statistically have high food insecurity on campus. Community colleges often are missing robust dining facilities and have students who are often working full-time, supporting family members, and have overcome obstacles by way of being first generation or a former foster youth– these are students that are most affected by food insecurity. Our California Hunger-Free Campus bill incentivizes community colleges to hire full-time staff who are dedicated to enrolling students in SNAP (CalFresh/food stamps) and start pantry programs to increase students’ access to food. Please fill out our interest form and a member of our staff will be in touch with you within a few business days.
Q: Our dining service company on campus has been reluctant about this program. What can I do?
A: This can be common, which is why we have developed solutions to the considerations often raised from dining. We coach our partners on how to build a positive and collaborative partnership with all types of dining service providers. Contact our National Programs Coordinator, Emily Kass, at email@example.com to set up a coaching call to prepare how to discuss this program with dining representatives on your campus.
Q: Do you do anything by way of evaluation? What has the impact been so far on your campuses?
A: Evaluation is a key part of our programming: we not only want to help the public understand that college student hunger exists, but we want to demonstrate to universities and beyond why our program makes a large difference in the experiences of their students. In order to do so, we conduct an annual impact survey to capture program feedback and testimonials from students who have received meal swipes across the country. Furthermore, we solicit feedback from the campus advocates who lead our programs in order to continually improve our services. We look forward to continuing to share the impact of our work on an annual basis. Check out the most recent Impact Report here.