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Swipe Out Hunger program combats food insecurity for Lipscomb students

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Bison Cafe

The cost of attending college is often the subject of discussion and headlines in the media. But the cost includes more than just tuition and books. A surprising number of college students also deal with insecurity of basic needs such as food. 

The anecdote about college students surviving on instant noodles has circulated for decades, but data now paints a more accurate picture of food insecurity on college campuses. According to a fall 2020 survey of nearly 167,000 students nationwide conducted by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, which studies basic needs insecurity for college students, 39% of students at two-or four-year schools had experienced food insecurity in the last 30 days.  

To help combat food insecurity among Lipscomb’s student population, the university has partnered with Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit committed to ending college student hunger. Swipe Out Hunger works with university campuses across the country to launch innovative and sustainable food security programs to combat student hunger, including “The Swipe Drive,” which partners with universities to distribute meal swipes to students facing food insecurity.

Swipe Out Hunger Sticker

“We look at the holistic wellbeing of students,” says Sarah McCormack, student care coordinator in the Office of Student Wellbeing. “This includes access to food. We know that the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on so many people financially and that impacts our students. Studies show that when you are hungry that will impact your ability to succeed in the classroom. There is also a social aspect of eating with your peers in the cafeteria. For those who may not have the resources to ‘swipe’ into the caf and eat with their friends … they’re missing a communal aspect of campus life. We hope this program helps remove barriers for students.”

Sodexo has helped launch the program at Lipscomb by donating 3,000 meal swipes to give away to food-insecure students.

“This is a program that Sodexo, Swipe Out Hunger Foundation, and Lipscomb have collaborated to help give students, who are struggling with purchasing food, a short term meal solution until something more permanent can be found,” explains Anthony Bates, general manager of Lipscomb Dining, operated by Sodexo. “For example, a change or loss of a job for a student could cause a delay of money, possibly leaving the student to decide on paying for gasoline or lunch. We are trying to prevent these situations and give support to these students while they sort through these difficulties.”

McCormack says students may request swipes by completing the confidential Swipe Out Meal Request Form. Meal swipes are distributed at no cost to students in quantities of 15 to those in need who do not have meal plans. They are distributed from the Meal Swipe Bank to a student’s ID card and meals may be redeemed simply by swiping in at Bison Cafe with the student ID.

“We are grateful to Anthony and the Sodexo organization for their meal donation to start our program in such a strong way,” says McCormack. “This is meant to be a short-term solution until we are able to establish a more permanent solution. We are so excited and thankful to be able to support students in this way. We want to spread the word to students so they are aware that this resource is available to them.”

The program launched this fall and already ten students have received meal swipes. McCormack says in the future the program may expand to include the ability for students to donate swipes to the meal bank. 

Learn more or request meal swipes by completing this form