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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

‘Swipe Against Hunger’ encourages students to donate meals

Students dropped by to hand over their cards to donate. The process was so easy and took less than one minute to do. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Students who have available meal swipes on their student dining plan attended an event hosted by Associated Students at Sutter Dining Hall, “Swipe Against Hunger.”

On Nov. 14, AS Dining Services held this event for students to donate their extra meal swipes in order for them to be distributed next semester to other students who are needs-based.

Students were able to walk into the front of Sutter Dining, where the front desk is located, and donate one swipe that would be put into a place where it would be available to redeem at the Wildcat Food Pantry.

Preparing the Food
Sutter Dining had a line of students waiting to order their food. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera
Swipe Against Hunger
This campaign allows students to donate one swipe from their cards in order to help other student's with their food insecurity. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

According to the annual report from Division of Student Affairs for 2017-2018, the California State University 2018 Study of Student Basic Needs reported that 50% of Chico State students, an estimated 8,000 students, experience low (24%) to very low (26%) food security. System-wide research indicated that 48% of the students are eligible for CalFresh USDA SNAP food assistance benefits.

There are many resources and opportunities for students to seek help when it comes to this particular area of need, such as the Wildcat Food Pantry and CalFresh, but the Swipe Against Hunger event was created to specifically tackle the growing problem of low food security on campus.

“I found out about the event through The Hub and decided to donate a swipe because I know that they don’t roll over into the next semester,” first-year psychology major Isabel Ceja-Ochoa said. “I paid a lot of money for this meal plan and not for the food to go to waste. I’m not into the food anymore at Sutter, it’s getting old, and because of that I have so many swipes left that someone else could be using.”

The idea of students being able to purchase as many swipes in the dining hall as they want in the beginning of the semester has been circulating for some time. But the student-representative behind the event, Jessica Ramirez, explained how a portion of the meal plan money is flowing back into the school.

Swipe Against Hunger Representative
Jessica Ramirez is a representative for the Swipe Against Hunger campaign. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

“That’s an interesting topic, but our campus is run by Associated Students,” Ramirez said. “We don’t have Chick-Fil-A’s or Taco Bell’s and because of this, that money that is being paid from the students for the meal plans is coming back to our campus.”

“We do keep our campus afloat with that money. Do I think it’s a bad idea for a student to have an option to purchase how many swipes they have? No. Do I think it’s easy to come up with an idea like that while maintaining our campus? No.”

Ramirez mentioned that after the quantitative research done on campus, one in every two students is food insecure at Chico State. She explained the event isn’t a permanent or definite solution to the low food security problem for students, but is a start.

“I used to live in housing last semester and had a large number of leftover swipes as well,” she said. “After discussing with my peers and teachers, we decided to propose this idea that won’t fix the problem but will create a path to the permanent solution.”

“This isn’t my original idea, because it has been done on other college campuses before,” Ramirez said. “But I did take those ideas and culminated it into something that Chico State could afford.”

Ramirez explained how if the event were to occur every year, she doesn’t think there will ever be one “for sure answer” to food insecurity because it is an issue facing the country and many other college campuses.

“This is helping those who need more swipes or don’t have money because food is expensive and being in college itself is already expensive,” Isabel Ceja-Ochoa said. “We don’t have enough money to let this food go to waste. So I’d rather it go to someone else.”

Next semester, students will have the opportunity to identify themselves as food-insecure to one of the staff in the Wildcat Food Pantry. They will meet with director Joe Picard, who will asses their needs to see if this is something students will benefit from. Once assessed, students would have the opportunity to receive a food voucher to enter the dining hall and eat like a normal student with a meal plan.

Although data is still being collected and counted, as of Nov. 14 over 400 students have donated one meal swipe to the “Swipe Against Hunger” event.

Angelina Mendez can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @theorion_angie.

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