Sodexo is expanding its partnership with the Swipe Out Hunger nonprofit group committed to reducing food insecurity on college campuses by piloting a Meal Swipe Bank at 13 schools where it operates. Through the plan, the company will provide two free meals for every full-time meal plan sold, which it estimates as more than 25,000 free meals annually.
The pilot program will be developed alongside campus staff already providing support to students who are likely to experience food insecurity. To protect student privacy, the safety net dining plan cards will look the same as standard dining plan cards.
The participating universities are:
- Augustana University
- California Lutheran University
- California State University San Bernardino
- Chapman University
- Creighton University
- Dakota State University
- Menlo College
- Northwest Nazarene University
- San Francisco State University
- Seattle Pacific University
- University of Idaho-Wallace
- Warner Pacific College
- Westmont College
Following the results of the pilot, the program will be available nationwide in the fall of the 2020-2021 academic year.
"Over the past year, we have been at the table with Sodexo working to develop a thoughtful solution to hunger on campus," said Rachel Sumekh, founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, in a statement accompanying the announcement. "This program is the first large-scale program of its kind within the food service industry and we know it will make a significant impact on students' lives and their overall well-being. We've learned to never underestimate the power of a meal swipe."
One in three college students faces food insecurity jeopardizing their ability to focus, stay in school and feel part of the campus community, according to Swipe Out Hunger.
“In the U.S., many college and university students are struggling with the costs of college beyond tuition,” the announcement release claims. “The increase in the cost to items such as rent, utilities, transportation and food have led a significant increase in food insecurity and housing insecurity among students at two- and four-year institutions. While typical interventions, such as campus meal plans, Pell Grants, student loans and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), have helped address food insecurity, many students continue to go hungry.”
Swipe Out Hunger's 2019 impact survey of 414 students from private and public universities who had received meal passes during the school year found that:
- 72% eat more regularly after receiving donated swipes;
- 73% feel less stress and anxiety about where they get their next meal;
- More than two-thirds are able to make ends meet and stretch money;
- More than half report performing better in class and on exams after receiving donated swipes; and
- 63% feel that their college is more supportive of students like them after receiving donated swipes.
"Students shouldn't have to worry about where they will get their next meal," said Satya Menard, CEO of Schools and Universities Worldwide, Sodexo in the announcement. "We are excited to expand our partnership with Swipe Out Hunger and work with our university partners to combat hunger insecurity and provide free meals for students in need."
Several Sodexo University partners currently already have a Swipe Out Hunger program in place. They include the University of Denver, West Virginia University, the University of Vermont, Pepperdine University and the University of Pittsburgh.