Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger Expand Program for Students Experiencing Food Insecurity to 100 U.S. Campuses
Gaithersburg, MD, Nov. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One in three college students face food insecurity each year. With the financial strain on families combined with physical and emotional stress caused by the pandemic, student food insecurity has increased by 14 percent. Following a successful pilot program, which provided more than 15,500 meals for 1,100 students in the Spring semester, Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending student hunger, announced the expansion of its Meal Swipe Bank to 100 U.S. campuses by the end of 2021.
“Students need our support. The pandemic, unfortunately, has only heightened the already pervasive state of food in-security, being faced by a third of our students,” said Tom Post, CEO, Sodexo Universities. “The Swipe Out Hunger program provides both emergency access to meals and also peace of mind for students that their campus supports them and that there are easily accessible resources should they need access to free meals.”
Sodexo’s commitment on each campus is to provide meal swipes for the Meal Swipe Bank equal to the sum of fall and spring mandatory meal plans sold. Once students are enrolled in the program, these meal swipes are distributed directly onto student ID cards, allowing those in need to anonymously redeem free meals on campus.
“A warm, nourishing meal can make a significant difference in the life of a college student, whether physically, mentally, financially, or academically,” said Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. “Partners like Sodexo understand how critical it is to ensure every student has access to food. Working together, we can reach even more students and ensure they have the opportunity to thrive as they earn their degree.”
The Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger pilot program launched on 12 campuses across the U.S., including Seattle Pacific University and San Francisco State University. As a result of the pilot, 80 percent of participating students felt less stress and 44 percent performed better in their classes. The program will grow to more campuses this fall, such as Minnesota State University Mankato.
“I have been more academically focused and have been able to stretch my funds more adequately throughout the weeks,” said a student who received meals at Seattle Pacific University. “I am mentally more aware and more social and physically able to do more with sustainable nutrition in my body.”
Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger look forward to partnering with student leaders across the country to address campus hunger through a number of tactics, such as:
- Establishing a Meal Swipe Bank on campus;
- Promoting Swipe Drives, where students can donate unused meal swipes to their peers facing food insecurity
- Joining forces with a Food Security Task Force on campus to discuss challenges and opportunities; and
- Teaming up with Dining Services to expand campus food security programs.
“Since our Swipe Out Hunger chapter was first formed, I think we have had a major impact on student wellbeing at Georgia College,” said Kendyl Lewis, Georgia College & State University's student founder of Swipe Out Hunger. “Our chapter has helped to feed students who were struggling with hunger, but we have also changed the narrative around helping meet students’ basic needs.”