Swipe Out Hunger
Penn State is partnering once again with a national nonprofit to fight food insecurity and student hunger at every campus across the commonwealth.
The “Swipe Out Hunger” drive— a partnership between the University and the Swipe Out Hunger national organization — will run from Nov. 13 through Nov. 21 to coincide with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
During that time, students at every campus location will have the option to donate $5, $10, or $15 when they pay for their meal at any residential dining facility, including mobile orders. Those donated funds will go toward Penn State’s Student Emergency Fund, which directly supports students at every campus location facing food insecurity, as well as additional needs including housing insecurity, homelessness, and unexpected emergencies. The emergency fund provides financial support to students in need while connecting them with resources to help them develop greater financial stability.
In the spring of 2020, Penn State raised more than $29,000 for the Student Emergency Fund during its first year partnering with Swipe Out Hunger.
“It’s important for us to support our students and for us to be student-centric in everything we do,” said Jim Richard, director of residential dining for the University Park campus. “Without being able to fuel your body and your brain, you’re going to struggle in an educational environment — so we are very engaged in making sure these opportunities exist so our students can be successful in everything they do.”
Anna Barone, director of the Student Care and Advocacy office that oversees the Student Emergency Fund, said the Swipe Out Hunger drive builds on a pilot program the University ran in 2019 called “Turn the Tables on Hunger” that encouraged students to donate funds to reduce food insecurity on campus. By partnering with Swipe Out Hunger, Barone said they have been able to work with the national organization to raise greater awareness of student food insecurity and increase the impact of their efforts to raise funds to fight hunger across the University.
The Swipe Out Hunger partnership grew out of Penn State’s Task Force on Food and Housing Insecurity, which was charged by Penn State President Eric Barron in February 2020 to evaluate challenges and find innovative solutions to the issues of student food and housing insecurity as part of Penn State’s commitment to access and affordability. In addition to initiatives like Swipe Out Hunger and the support offered through the Student Emergency Fund, the University offers a wide range of resources to support students facing food and housing insecurity at every campus.
“The University hopes to expand Swipe Out Hunger into a twice-yearly occurrence, with one drive during the fall semester and a second drive during the spring,” said Jim Meinecke, associate director for residential dining at the University Park campus. These efforts are all in support of the goal of providing as many avenues for supporting the fight against food insecurity as possible, he said.
“When you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, humans can’t learn, think, connect or grow without their basic needs met, so it is our shared responsibility to make sure our students are seeing their needs fulfilled,” Barone said. “We want students to know that there are resources here for them, and to know what their options are when they’re going through something challenging, while also equipping them with the knowledge and the tools they need so they can overcome their challenges and continue to grow into the future.”
More information about the Student Emergency Fund, and other resources available to support students facing financial challenges and other basic needs, is available through the Penn State Student Affairs website.