By Sydney Stalnecker
Youngstown State University partnered with Swipe Out Hunger to create an emergency meal credit program for students struggling with food insecurities. The program began Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit based in California, launched in 2010 and has paired with over 285 colleges and universities to end college student hunger through the Swipe Drive program. Since 2010, the program has served 2.5 million meals.
At the end of each semester, students can donate their extra meal swipes to the program to create an emergency meal credit program at YSU for students in need to use the following semester.
Swipe Out Hunger’s website provides studies on food and housing insecurities among college students. The study conducted by The Hope Center found 45% of the 86,000 students who participated nationally “were food insecure in the prior 30 days.”
The Hope Center defines food insecurity as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food in a socially acceptable manner.”
This is the first year the program will be at YSU. The Student Government Association hosted Swipe Out Hunger Week to bring awareness and support for the launch.
Nicholas Koupiaris, SGA president, said the organization has many goals for the program.
“Our first goal is [to] bring on a new program on campus that is going to help students be able to have a hot meal in front of them,” Koupiaris said. “We are hoping to raise around $1,000 toward the program.”
Many events have taken place as part of Swipe Out Hunger Week to raise awareness and donations for the program.
On Monday, a panel discussion featuring guest speakers Nicole Kent-Strollo, Michael Ideris and Mayor Jamael “Tito” Brown launched the discussion on food insecurities for students and those in the Youngstown area.
Brown said he has seen people in the area dealing with many types of issues, including food and housing insecurities. He is excited to see the program begin.
“It might not seem that big to you, but it’s really huge when you can save one extra meal and they can swipe out hunger,” Brown said. “They don’t have to worry about where [their] next meal will come from.”
There are several fundraising efforts for the program.Tonight there will be an M&M guessing contest in the Chestnut Room which will cost $1. Tomorrow, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Tie-dye T-shirt swap in The Cove for $3 from 12-4 p.m.
Students who don’t have a meal plan but still want to donate can make monetary donations via SGA’s website.