The second semesterly Meal Swipe Drive this fall raised over twice as many meal swipes as the spring drive and allowed recipients to access swipes directly from their GOCards in an effort to increase participation and eliminate stigmatization for individuals facing food insecurity.
The Meal Swipe Drive was held by Interhall Council and Swipe Out Hunger, the Georgetown chapter of the national initiative working to end food insecurity, on Sept. 26. This semester’s Meal Swipe Drive received 1,092 meal swipe donations, an increase from the 538 meal swipe donations during the first drive in the spring.
Through the Meal Swipe Drive, students were able to donate meal swipes at all Hoya Hospitality locations, including Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall, Royal Jacket, Crop Chop, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagels.
Students were able to donate meal swipes either from their weekly allowance if they had a weekly meal plan, or from their total block meals if they had a block meal plan, according to Alandro Valdez (COL ’21), Vice President of Advocacy for Interhall Council. Students with unlimited meal swipes were also able to donate two swipes.
The first drive last spring required students to use paper vouchers to redeem donated meal swipes. This semester, students who apply for extra meal swipes will have the swipes directly loaded onto their GOCards, decreasing any hesitation that students may feel for using donated meal swipes, according to Swipe Out Hunger president Isabelle Ortiz (MSB ’20).
“The paper vouchers create a lot of issues because people were embarrassed, and they shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed,” Ortiz said. “This semester is a lot more convenient because you would never know if someone was using it, as the swipes are directly uploaded onto the GOCards.”
The donated swipes will be redeemable at the buffet-style Fresh Food Company in Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall, according to Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises Marc Fournier.
In the next few weeks, students will be able to apply for donated meal swipes on a first come, first served basis. Although the application format is still being determined, the questions will ask about what kind of food insecurity the student is facing and their current meal plan, according to Ortiz. Students can request blocks of five meal swipes using iPads located in the Hoya Hub, and possibly in Health Education Services and the Georgetown Scholars Program office if the locations are approved, according to Ortiz.
Swipe Out Hunger worked closely with the Hoya Hub, an on-campus food pantry, to promote the drive. The Meal Swipe Drive helps address the far-reaching problem of students living with food insecurity, according to Hoya Hub Student Advocacy Organization treasurer Samuel Dubke (SFS ’21).
“Food insecurity is defined as ‘the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food,’” Dubke wrote in an email to The Hoya. “You can only skip a few meals a week and still be food insecure. The scope of the issue is quite broad.”
Current meal plan options for students range from $1,600 to $3,407, with the standard meal plan including 14 swipes per week, or roughly two swipes per day, according to Interhall president Jordon DeGroote (SFS ’20). The Meal Swipe Drive aims to address the structural problems of meal plans as students are often left without a way of getting a third meal, forcing students to pay extra money, DeGroote said.
“People either have to skip a meal, or they have to find a meal by paying for it in cash, and people sometimes don’t have that dispensable income,” DeGroote said. “There are people who skip a meal a day and you may not think of them as traditionally food insecure but they absolutely do fit it.”
The Meal Swipe Drive creates an environment of collaboration and support at Georgetown, according to Fournier.
“Programs such as the Swipe Out Hunger meal plan donation drives encourage Georgetown students to help support their classmates,” Fournier wrote in an email to The Hoya.
This semester, students could donate a maximum of two meal swipes from their meal plans. In the future, the Meal Swipe Drive could be improved by increasing the number of allowed swipe donations and by increasing the scope of campus partnerships, according to Valdero.
This article was updated Oct. 3 to correct that students could donate meal swipes from their meal plan during the drive, not guest meal swipes.