Last week SMU students donated over 800 extra meal plan swipes to those experiencing food insecurity on campus. This was made possible through Swipe Out Hunger’s “Swipe Drive” anti-hunger program.
“Swipe Out Hunger helps us create an environment in which students support students, truly a beautiful concept,” says SMU Swipe Out Hunger Executive Director, Nina Del Pozo.
Despite stereotypes associated with SMU regarding wealth and privilege, this isn’t the case for everyone.
Students come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds so food insecurity can occur on any campus. In fact, according to Swipe Out Hunger, one in three college students experience food insecurity.
Bethany Bass, senior and Human Rights Fellow, noticed students were lacking crucial resources and support in this area.
Hoping to find a solution, Bass joined the SMU Human Rights Program in 2020 and was funded by the Office of Engaged Learning as she began researching ways to combat food insecurity on college campuses.
Once Elise Johnson got involved, Bass saw potential in forming a strategic partnership between SMU dining and the Office of Student Advocacy and Support. As the office’s director, Johnson also works with SMU’s hidden on-campus food pantry, “The Shop.”
“About 128 students use the on-campus food pantry,” Bass said. “So I did some research and asked students what they needed. Many mentioned hot meals.”
After contacting Swipe Out Hunger, the leading nonprofit addressing hunger among college students, Bass began recruiting fellow SMU students to help facilitate this mission.
SMU Swipe Out Hunger launched last Monday with an event on the Dallas Hall lawn. By the end of the day, over 500 swipes were donated.
Reese Alecxih, freshman and friend of Bass, originally attended the launch as a supportive gesture, but by Friday evening, she was standing outside of Umphrey Lee with Bass and others holding QR codes and urging nearby students to donate.
“I wasn’t aware of this issue but it immediately touched my heart,” said Alecxih. “So I joined about two days ago, and I’ve already gotten two of my friends involved.”
“Monday was a great day,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Student Advisory Board member, Westley Giadolor, “It was really exciting to be at the different dining halls asking students to donate swipes. Most students didn’t know they could do that.”
Regardless of their dining plan, each student could only donate up to two swipes. Giadolor, who is also the African-American Senator for SMU, hopes to speak with SMU about allowing students with unlimited swipes to donate as many swipes as they please.
“I hope after this year, we’ll have a demonstration of need and student support,” says Bass. “Oftentimes, there’s a stigma around food insecurity, especially with campus cultures like SMU where it’s perceived as wealthy. But there are so many different student experiences here so it’s important to cater to those experiences too.”