When choosing a college, Eileen knew two things for sure—that she would be able to get to know her professors and peers and that she wanted to be in an area in which she would have myriad opportunities in the research and medicine.
Swipe-It-Forward, a student-run initiative launched during the fall 2019 semester aimed toward improving challenges of food insecurity on campus, is now accepting student meal swipe donations.
This initiative allows students who self-identify as food insecure to request additional meal swipes via a Meal Swipe Bank. When the program was launched during the fall 2019 semester, the bank was initially funded by donations from Emmanuel faculty and staff. Now, students are able to donate a limited number of their meal swipes to the bank as well based on the size of their meal plan.
Students will be able to request up to five additional meal swipes on the Fenway Card per semester. The process is confidential and aims to aid members of the student body who self-identify as food insecure in a confidential manner.
The effort to bring attention to the challenge of food insecurity on Emmanuel's campus has been a student-led collaboration with faculty and staff members. Kai Uehara '20, who took the lead in establishing the program, has been instrumental in the implementation of initiatives to modify dining experiences on campus over the past two years. As an education major, he strives to improve these types of issues in the classroom.
"Making sure that things are equitable for all students is a big passion of mine," said Uehara. "The concept that some of my fellow students are not able to meet their nutritional needs because of finances is obviously egregious, and I was fortunate enough to be in a position that gave me the opportunity to make a difference. I'm glad that I saw the implementation of this program through."
An individual who is food insecure does not have reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food. Recent studies have shown that approximately 45% of college students in the United States self-identify as food insecure.
Emmanuel's Swipe-It-Forward Initiative is the first step to addressing food insecurity on campus. In the coming months, students and faculty will continue to work together on improving the program in order to reach a wider range of student needs.
"Our long-term goal was to give students the opportunity to donate unused meal swipes," said Uehara. "The launch of this aspect of the program provides students with an opportunity to give back to their community and continue to further Emmanuel's mission of service."