Still frustrated about all your leftover meal swipes at the end of each semester? Now you can put them to good use.
Swipe Out Hunger, a national organization that combats food insecurity by encouraging college students to donate leftover meal swipes, will officially launch at Penn on Wednesday. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. students can pass by the Gourmet Grocer at 1920 Commons to donate up to two meal swipes to local nonprofit Philabundance. A second event is scheduled for April 28.
The program is a result of the efforts of College sophomores Liza Lansing and Jessica Abrams after they realized the extent of hunger in Philadelphia.
“A lot of people don’t understand what food insecurity actually is,” Abrams said. “Many of these people pay bills, rent and other expenses before realizing they won’t have enough left over for food.”
“We want to disentangle homelessness and hunger,” she added.
It was during their freshman year that Lansing and Abrams first heard about Swipe Out Hunger, which was founded at University of California, Los Angeles. The pair knew they wanted to bring the organization to Penn but struggled to find the proper channels to go through. They turned to their professor, Ira Harkavy, who is also the director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, to finally get the ball rolling.
“At first we couldn’t even get a meeting on our own ... We just didn’t know where to start,” Lansing said. “Dr. Harkavy really showed us how to navigate the Penn bureaucracy.”
But once they were underway, things started falling into place.
“We found out that Bon Appétit is actually a very proactive company when it comes to caring about and working with students,” Lansing said.
“The brilliance of the Swipes model is in its simplicity,” Jared Fenton, a College sophomore, said. Once a student donates their swipes, they can “choose either 5 or 10 food items that they would like to donate to hungry families in West Philadelphia,” he said.
Bon Appétit will partner with Philabundance to distribute the food to those in need. Philabundance is the largest nonprofit food bank in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley area and provides assistance to around 75,000 people a week.
Lansing and Abrams are also encouraging students to take the “$4 Challenge.”This challenges students to live on the average federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits a recipient receives. Penn students can also increase a beneficiary’s food assistance by more than double with a simple meal swipe donation.
“One swipe amounts to more than a day’s worth of an individual’s SNAP benefits,” said Lansing.