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Monday, April 15, 2024 — Houston, TX

Over 8,000 meal swipes donated in fourth year of program

Cali Liu / Thresher

By Arman Saxena     9/13/23 12:51am

Housing and Dining, Student Success Initiatives and the Student Association have launched their fourth year of the meal swipe donation program to address food insecurity among students, especially for those living off-campus. According to Interim Associate Vice President of H&D David McDonald, 8,140 swipes were donated this year, in comparison to the estimated 4,400 swipes that were donated at the start of the spring 2023 semester and the 800 swipes that were donated when the program began in spring 2020.

So far, Student Success Initiatives has been able to accommodate the meal requests of 145 students with the donated meal swipes. This number could still increase since the meal swipe request period is opem until Friday, Sept. 15.

Student Success Initiatives Assistant Director Taylor Breshears said that the program is meant to distribute meal swipes, that often are unused, to students who cannot otherwise afford meals on campus. 

“Off-campus living is expensive in Houston. It’s hard to financially sustain yourself, even on full financial aid, if a little bit of life happens,” Breshears wrote in an email to the Thresher. “Whenever budgets get tight, many students will start cutting back on groceries because it’s the bill they have the most financial influence over … I’ve heard students in my office mention skipping meals, so they can save money. How is a student supposed to focus on their academics when they are worried about their next meal?”

Ayush Suresh, a Lovett College sophomore, mentioned the number of leftover swipes he had as one of the reasons he was willing to donate. 

“I recognized last year, in both semesters, I had a lot of swipes remaining, even after swiping in for friends and visitors throughout the semesters. I felt that I had a lot of swipes to give to other people who could make more use of it,” Suresh said.

When the program started, students could donate up to five of their guest swipes. This semester, the maximum amount of swipes students can donate has increased to 15.

“We felt that students would appreciate a greater opportunity to donate,” McDonald said of the change.

Lovett sophomore Christopher Rodriguez, however, mentioned that he would donate even more if he was able to.

“At the end of the school year I had 100 [swipes] for on-campus housing, and I definitely would’ve given at least 30 or something when they asked because we get a ridiculous amount of meal swipes,” Rodriguez said.

Student Association President Solomon Ni attributed the increase in meal swipes donated this semester to differences in how SA launched the program, including introducing the program earlier in the year so students could receive meal swipes earlier. 

“We made it really easy for people to fill out the form to donate their swipes … We did a very big push in marketing the meal swipe donation programs,” Ni, a Jones College junior, said. “Our biggest concern was educating everyone about [the program] in the first week of school.”

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