A student "swipes out hunger" at Starbucks witth her meal plan card

'Swipe Out Hunger' encourages students to take action against food insecurity

Penn State is partnering 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. 12 through 20 to coincide with national Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

During that time, students at every campus location can donate $1, $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 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. 

“It is impossible for students to focus on their education when they are spending time worrying about where they are going to get their next meal. We want students to know that there are resources available to support those basic needs,” said Leanne Lenz, assistant director for Student Care and Advocacy, which administers the Student Emergency Fund. “This drive gives students a chance to donate a small amount but have a big impact in supporting their peers and fighting food insecurity at Penn State.”  

This is the third year Penn State has partnered with Swipe Out Hunger. In the spring of 2022, Penn State raised more than $30,000 for the Student Emergency Fund. Lenz said the Swipe Out Hunger drive gives Penn State the opportunity 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. 

"Hosting the Swipe Out Hunger drive is a tremendous example of a Penn State core value — community,” said Jim Meinecke, director of residential dining for the University Park campus. “Having students help each other is awesome to witness. These donations are vital in ensuring everyone has the best opportunity to be successful during their time here.” 

The Swipe Out Hunger drive is part of a larger University initiative to support students who experience challenges meeting basic needs. Food and housing insecurity has been a critical University and presidential priority beginning with the establishment of the University Task Force on Food and Housing Security in 2020. Since then, many efforts in this area have been realized, the latest of which include expanding the Office of Student Care and Advocacy to provide focused support to students in need, as well as improvements to the student-run Lion’s Pantry at University Park and pantries at Commonwealth Campuses. Most recently, Penn State launched a University-wide survey to understand the prevalence of need among students.  

More information about resources available to support students facing financial challenges and other basic needs is available through the Penn State Student Affairs website. Students with an immediate need can start by completing the Basic Needs Request Form