Gaithersburg, MD, Nov. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One in three college students face food insecurity each year. With the financial strain on families combined with physical and emotional stress caused by the pandemic, student food insecurity has increased by 14 percent. Following a successful pilot program, which provided more than 15,500 meals for 1,100 students in the Spring semester, Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending student hunger, announced the expansion of its Meal Swipe Bank to 100 U.S. campuses by the end of 2021.
“Students need our support. The pandemic, unfortunately, has only heightened the already pervasive state of food in-security, being faced by a third of our students,” said Tom Post, CEO, Sodexo Universities. “The Swipe Out Hunger program provides both emergency access to meals and also peace of mind for students that their campus supports them and that there are easily accessible resources should they need access to free meals.”
Sodexo’s commitment on each campus is to provide meal swipes for the Meal Swipe Bank equal to the sum of fall and spring mandatory meal plans sold. Once students are enrolled in the program, these meal swipes are distributed directly onto student ID cards, allowing those in need to anonymously redeem free meals on campus.
“A warm, nourishing meal can make a significant difference in the life of a college student, whether physically, mentally, financially, or academically,” said Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. “Partners like Sodexo understand how critical it is to ensure every student has access to food. Working together, we can reach even more students and ensure they have the opportunity to thrive as they earn their degree.”
The Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger pilot program launched on 12 campuses across the U.S., including Seattle Pacific University and San Francisco State University. As a result of the pilot, 80 percent of participating students felt less stress and 44 percent performed better in their classes. The program will grow to more campuses this fall, such as Minnesota State University Mankato.
“I have been more academically focused and have been able to stretch my funds more adequately throughout the weeks,” said a student who received meals at Seattle Pacific University. “I am mentally more aware and more social and physically able to do more with sustainable nutrition in my body.”
Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger look forward to partnering with student leaders across the country to address campus hunger through a number of tactics, such as:
Establishing a Meal Swipe Bank on campus;
Promoting Swipe Drives, where students can donate unused meal swipes to their peers facing food insecurity
Joining forces with a Food Security Task Force on campus to discuss challenges and opportunities; and
Teaming up with Dining Services to expand campus food security programs.
“Since our Swipe Out Hunger chapter was first formed, I think we have had a major impact on student wellbeing at Georgia College,” said Kendyl Lewis, Georgia College & State University's student founder of Swipe Out Hunger. “Our chapter has helped to feed students who were struggling with hunger, but we have also changed the narrative around helping meet students’ basic needs.”
“I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for the swipe donation Sodexo provided to us. It’s been a Godsend to so many students,” Karen Anderson, Asst. Dir., Community Engagement, Minnesota State University, Mankato. “When we send out the award letter, we include a list of other resources students can turn to for support after those swipes have ended. This has resulted in higher usage at those other sources. In this way, Swipe Out Hunger has proven to be support for immediate needs but also ongoing needs.”
As Sodexo and Swipe Out Hunger work to scale the Meal Swipe Bank program to new campuses over the next year, they will simultaneously provide resources to empower students to act. Even though many campuses are operating remotely, students can still act now to end college student hunger through a wealth of Swipe Out Hunger's advocacy efforts. To get involved:
About Swipe Out Hunger
Swipe Out Hunger is a national nonprofit committed to ending college student hunger. It advises colleges and universities on the design of commonsense and innovative anti-hunger programs. The most commonly adopted model is the organization’s flagship program, “The Swipe Drive,” which allows students to donate their extra meal plan swipes to their peers who face food insecurity on campus. Recognized for its entrepreneurial nature, Swipe Out Hunger has been named an Obama White House Champion For Change and its founder, Rachel Sumekh, has landed a spot on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. From its beginnings as a grassroots movement at UCLA in 2010, Swipe Out Hunger has since served 2 million nourishing meals across 39 states and more than 120 campuses. For more information, visit swipehunger.org.
About Sodexo North America
Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 67 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. The company employs 160,000 people at 13,500 sites in all 50 U.S. states and Canada, and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional jobs through its annual purchases of $17B in goods and services from small to large businesses. Sodexo is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion and safety, while upholding the highest standards of corporate responsibility and ethical business conduct. In support of local communities across the U.S., in 2019, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation mobilized 37,000 Sodexo volunteers to distribute 3.2 million meals to help 2.3 million children and adults meet their immediate food needs. Since 1996, the Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed nearly $34.5 million to help feed children in America impacted by hunger. To learn more about Sodexo, visit US.Sodexo.com. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
CONTACT: Dasha Ross-Smith Sodexo Dasha.Ross-Smith@sodexo.com