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March 3, 2019

Over 400 Students Donated ‘Bonus’ Swipes in First Trial of New Meal Swipe Program

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The meal swipe program saw more than 400 students donating meals during the program’s first two weeks.

Meal swipe donation tables were set up at eateries operated by Cornell Dining. Students had the opportunity to donate “bonus” meals they have on their meal plan, which range from 4 to 8 depending on the specific plan. Students are unable to donate meals from their regular meal plan because they are designated for individual use, according to Shakima M. Clency, director of first-generation and low-income student support.

“Bonus” meal swipes are typically used for guest meal swipes.

This program was launched on Feb. 4 and is a part of a nationwide organization, Swipe Out Hunger, that operates on college campuses. The leading aspect of the organization is for colleges to host “Swipe Drives” to recycle unused meal swipes and give them to students in need.

According to Cornell Dining, 1 in 3 college students is food insecure. A university survey indicated that 20 percent of the student body “skipping a meal due to financial constraints.”

Clency spearheaded this initiative in partnership with Cornell Dining.

“We can now provide temporary support for individual students needing assistance, but we have not collected enough bonus meals to provide long-term support, which was our goal to help the students with the greatest need,” she told The Sun in an email.

According to Clency, as of Feb. 19, 60 students had “expressed interest” in the program, although use of Swipe Out Hunger is confidential. Donations to the program are also confidential and there currently is not a system to donate swipes to a specific individual, Clency said. Those wishing to provide a meal to someone can still use the current bonus meal swipe system.

“In general, the intent is for this program to be confidential on both ends,” she said. “People who need help don’t need to identify themselves publicly, and people donating a bonus swipe won’t be identified to the recipients.”

The future of the program is still unclear; however, its status will be reevaluated, according to Clency.

“We are still planning to evaluate the pilot program after this semester and consider any changes at that time,” Clency said. “Based on the supply and demand, one thing we’re considering is allowing students to donate more than one bonus meal swipe each semester.”

Donations for the program are ongoing and students can still donate their bonus meal swipes by emailing Cornell Dining.