Article from The Odyssey: http://theodysseyonline.com/upenn/meal-swipe-right/99024
This Wednesday, March 25th, SWIPE Out Hunger Penn is piloting the first of two donation days at Gourmet Grocer. This program will allow students on meal plans to give up to two meal swipes, which will be counted toward a monetary donation to Philabundance, a non-for-profit working to combat food insecurity within Philadelphia.
Based on similar programs at other college campuses nationwide, SWIPE Out Hunger Penn was founded by College sophomores and Tri-Delt sisters, Liza Lansing and Jessica Abrams.
When asked about their personal motivation for establishing the chapter at Penn, they touched upon their experiences last fall in an Academically Based Community Service Class called Faculty-Student Collaborative Action Seminar in Urban University-Community Relations. Taught by Dr. Ira Harkavy, the objective of this class was to identify a problem affecting Penn or the West Philadelphia community and to propose an in-depth solution.
Liza recalled a defining moment from a trolley tour of West Philadelphia that they took as a part of the class. “(W)e saw firsthand how West Philadelphia is a food desert. We were shocked after seeing streets lined with hair salons and dollar stores. Other than the new Fresh Grocer, there was no where for people to buy fresh and nutritious food.” With this problem in mind, Liza and Jessie proposed the Swipes model as a solution. Like many other Penn students, they ended their freshman year with unused meal swipes and wanted to develop a plan that would allow students to donate these leftover swipes. Under guidance of Dr. Harkavy, Liza and Jessie were able to establish a strong relationship with Bon Apetit, the dining provider of the university, and tailor the Swipes model to Penn.
Even with this detailed plan, Liza and Jessie knew that they were up against plenty of bureaucratic and other challenges. They spoke with the Swipes founders at both Northwestern University and UCLA. “Everyone we talked to told us that we were going to be told no a lot of times before we got a yes. This shouldn't be defeating, and we shouldn't give up.”
Liza and Jessie followed this advice and were able to reach a compromise with Bon Apetit of two donation days this semester. The success of these days will factor into whether Bon Apetit will continue this program, or even expand it.
This future expansion at Penn and on other college campuses nationwide is what Liza, Jessie, and the rest of SWIPE Out Hunger Penn are currently working toward.
They hope to see the two-meal swipe donation per student limit to be lifted in the future. Additionally, they are thinking of ways for students not on meal plans to donate.
Moreover, Liza and Jessie want to promote conversation about how, we, as a Penn community, can combat food insecurity.
“We truly believe in the mission of Swipes and see potential to expand its reach exponentially.”