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The Power of Community: Recap on Swipe Session Series

What’s the best way to learn? In community.

To share the wealth of knowledge about sustainable food security resources for college students with our network, we launched our Swipe Session series! These monthly meetings bring together our nationwide community to learn about relevant and timely topics in the higher education basic needs movement.

Check out what we covered to date in our Swipe Sessions:

A DAY IN THE LIFE: ON-CAMPUS BASIC NEEDS SUPERHEROES (MAY 2021)

Higher education professionals in higher education shared their ‘day in the life’ on campus working in basic needs and support services for students. Presenters included Jabari Bodrick of University of South Carolina, KaPreace Young of University of Nevada-Reno, and Colin Hurley of Mercyhurst University. Each presenter guided participants through the career paths that brought them into this space, and provided their take on the current ‘State of Student Support’ – what the field does well, what could be more frequently addressed or improved upon in the field, and where they’d like to see the field going from here.

While no two on-campus basic needs professionals’ roles are exactly the same, Jabari, KaPreace, and Colin all spend their days supporting students in different ways. Whether it be operating on-campus food pantries, distributing hygiene products, running community gardens, collaborating with other campus departments, or disbursing emergency funds (plus so much more), each basic needs pro has their own comprehensive set of projects and services they are dedicated to on a daily basis. Awareness, scale, and sustainability were all mentioned as areas to improve in each presenters’ ‘State of Student Support,’ and all presenters expressed the desire to improve these programmatic functions themselves. These professionals’ efforts, as well as those of professionals and volunteers around the country, are invaluable and incomparably necessary for student success nationwide.

**Check out the presentations, notes, and recording here.

THE JOURNEY AND PATH FORWARD: THE HUNGER FREE CAMPUS ACT (April 2021)

Swipe Out Hunger Founder & CEO Rachel Sumekh and Director of Advocacy Robb Friedlander shared about the journey of writing the Hunger Free Campus Act and advocating for its passage in 3 STATES and counting! The Swipe staff was joined by Molly Kepner of Greater Boston Food Bank, Laura Slyvester of Food Bank of Western Mass, and Chloe Eberhardt of Hunger Free Oregon, who spoke about their experiences in advocating for the passing of the HFC Act plus their grassroots organizing and coalition work within their communities.

The Hunger Free Campus Act provides funding for public institutions of higher education for food security resources, including the following: 1) Swipe Out Hunger program (meal donation program/Swipe Drive); 2) On-campus food Pantries; and 3) SNAP enrollment & outreach. This bill has been passed in CA, NJ, and MD, as well as introduced in MA, PA, MN, NC, NY, OR. To strengthen efforts to pass the HFC bill in these states, advocates need to share stories of impact, or “show lawmakers the real lives that are impacted,” as Director of Advocacy Robb Friedlander stated in the session. Advocacy organizations like Hunger-Free Oregon and the MA Hunger-Free Campus Coalition are moving the needle on legislator awareness of these issues, and community members can support in their work, too.

**Check out the presentations, notes, and recording here.

ALL ABOUT HOLSITIC CARE FOR STUDENTS (MARCH 2021)

Basic needs professionals nationwide led this February 2021 Swipe Session and spoke to their experiences and lessons learned in providing comprehensive sets of holistic care services to students – in other words, prioritizing support for the needs of the “whole student.” They presented on programs they’ve been operating long-term on their campuses, adaptations they’ve had to make to their programs to effectively support the whole student during COVID, and tangible action steps to inspire session participants to continually expand their campuses’ offerings.

Holistic care services range from food security resources like on-campus food pantries and meal distribution programs, to mental health resources, to hygiene necessities like menstrual products and home cleaning supplies. These comprehensive sets of services can also include SNAP/CalFresh application assistance programs, as well as housing security resources and emergency grant opportunities. By housing these sorts of resources in a Basic Needs Hub or other centralized location, accessibility for students can be significantly increased, and widespread promotion of this welcoming center can normalize and destigmatize the experience for students.

**Check out the presentations, notes, and recording here.

ADVOCACY FOR STUDENTS, BY STUDENTS (FEBRUARY 2021) FEAT. CHALLAH FOR HUNGER

In this Swipe Session focused on advocacy, student advocates from around the country shared how they’ve taken charge on pushing the needle towards food security policy change for their peers, including their experiences in conversation with local, state, and national legislators. Student presenters were also joined by Challah for Hunger’s (CfH) Director of Advocacy, Miriam Lipschutz, who spoke on CfH’s #FUELHigherEd campaign, as well as Swipe Out Hunger’s Advocacy and Organizing Manager, Robb Friedlander, who shared best practices from his advocacy experience in the hunger space.

Sophie Schoenbrun, the Challah Cohort Leader at Vassar College, presented on her on-campus advocacy including multiple food security surveys of the student body and aggregated demands of the university administration, and Molly Babbin, Student Leader at Middlebury College, shared her experience leading the Campus Hunger Project at Middlebury College and the long-term goals for sustainable anti-hunger programs on campus. UMN’s Swipe Out Hunger leaders Gigi Totten and Trey Feuerhelm enlightened participants with their advocacy priorities they’ve presented to Senator Klobuchar’s office, MN Gov. Waltz’s Senior Policy Advisor, and Senator Tina Smith’s office. These priorities range from permanently expanding SNAP benefits to students, to Increasing work-study wages on campus, to additional undocumented & international student support, and more.

**Check out the presentations, notes, and recording here.

LEARNING FROM STUDENT LEADERS IN 2021 (JANUARY 2021)

Students leading widely impactful and sustainable food security programs and advocacy campaigns around the country joined this first Swipe Session of 2021 to dive deep into the inner workings of local and national campaigns and programs for student support services on- and off-campus in the COVID era. This includes coalitions of student food security advocates, adaptive on-campus food pantries, the national Student Navigator Network, and the newly launched CUNY Student Food Navigators.

One of these campaigns, the National Student Navigator Network, was presented by Student Navigator Liaisons Geoffrey Hervey and Gabrielle Wilson, plus the Director of Case Management at RISE, Stacy Raphael. Its success was truly remarkable: over 7,300 students were supported across all 50 states, 27% of students felt more knowledgeable about resources available, and 25% felt less stress & anxiety after utilizing SNN’s peer-to-peer services. Also, more than $628,000 in SNAP benefits were received over a 3-month period by students who connected with the student navigators.

**Learn more in our Swipe Session notes here.

INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE ANTI-HUNGER PROGRAMS (DECEMBER 2020)

Practicing and upholding principles grounded in racial justice, equity, and inclusion is crucial for sustainable and meaningful anti-hunger programs. Campus advocates described how their commitments are welcoming of all, such as on-campus pantries expanding access to include staff, alumni, and other community members, as well as embracing cultural sensitivities and dietary restrictions.  

Campuses must prioritize listening to all students and developing holistic, supportive resources for everyone.

**Learn more about these programs in our Swipe Session notes here and our Commitment to Equitable and Inclusive Programs here.

ON-CAMPUS SNAP SUPPORT SOLUTIONS (NOVEMBER 2020)

SNAP is an incredible resource utilized by millions of Americans– and more than a million college students, whom are eligible, have not been able to access SNAP.

In our SNAP-focused Swipe Session, we heard from campus partners working towards SNAP awareness, outreach, and application assistance through innovative pathways, like Student Ambassador programs and SNAP eligibility evaluation tools. We also discussed how CollegeSNAPproject.org, created in collaboration with the Congressional Hunger Center, can be utilized and continually developed by the broader community.

What we know for sure to be true, and will always be true, is that widespread, varied promotion is the key to increased SNAP participation by college students. The presented SNAP support solutions were informative, innovative, and wildly creative; e.g. CSU East Bay hosted a CalFresh enrollment party, complete with music, games, and snacks, to generate awareness and increase CalFresh enrollment. The more communities the information, awareness, and access can reach, the better.

**Learn more about these efforts in the Swipe Session notes here

PROGRAM ADAPTATIONS TO COLLEGE FOOD SECURITY PROGRAMS (OCTOBER 2020)

We kicked off our inaugural Swipe Session with campus partners detailing how they have innovated their campus food security programs to meet not only the needs of students, but their current campus structures as well. 

One common adaptation amongst all our presenting campuses was virtual programmingit works! In a time of decreased in-person interactions, virtual programming ensures touchpoints with students that wouldn’t otherwise exist. From online ordering at food pantries, to budget-friendly online cooking classes, to virtual SNAP application assistance, the sky’s the limit on socially distanced support for students on- and off-campus.

**Learn more about these adaptations in the Swipe Session notes here

We hope you’ll join us each month for ongoing learning! We’ll keep you posted on the next Swipe Session in the coming months. We can’t wait to learn with you this year!  

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