Olive Savvy-Swipe Out Hunger

As many of us probably remember, food quality is not one of the great joys of college. Ramen, Easy Mac, and food from the campus eateries combine into a dietary experience that falls somewhat short of Michelin Star quality. Adding to the fun is the experience of having a meal plan. For those of you who do not remember, or have not experience them, generally the student pays per semester and gets a certain number of “swipes” per day or week.

These swipes can then be used at different eateries on campus and in the area to get food. They are not always very flexible, often they are divvied up by meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and if you do not use them at the specific time, you lose them. If this seems a little wasteful to you, then you are not alone.

Founded in 2009 at the University of California, Los Angeles, Swipe Out Hunger was created after a few friends bought some sandwiches with their meal plans to give them out to those who needed food around town. After a single week they had collected over 300 meals. Now they have grown into a national organization that is taking those leftover swipes and using them to tackle food insecurity.

They do this by creating chapters at different universities and organizing Swipes Drives. These drives give students the opportunity to donate unused sipes to Swipe Out Hunger who then convert it to a dollar amount or pounds of food. These donated swipes then primarily go to students at the university who are food insecure via food vouchers or a campus pantry. Alternatively, they can also be used to purchase food to be sent to community food pantries or other anti-hunger programs. Chapters are also encouraged to volunteer for related causes throughout the year as well.

This seems like such a common-sense idea that it is hard to imagine any resistance to it. However, there are some challenges because universities and the contractors that provide their food services often rely on that leftover money when they formulate their budgets. This has made some universities reluctant to allow local chapters of Swipe Out Hunger to be created. Despite these challenges, there are now 25 chapters at universities across the country. That is something definitely worth celebrating. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see how many swipes I have left.