On Wednesday, October 16, University of Connecticut students will have the opportunity to donate a meal plan flex pass to UConn Swipes, Willimantic No Freeze Shelter, and the Covenant Soup Kitchen.
UConn’s Department of Dining Services, Community Outreach, and the Students First Fund are collaborating with the Dean of Students to launch the UConn Swipes program on the Storrs campus.
Part of a nation-wide program implemented at other colleges and universities, the UConn Swipes program aims to provide students with food insecurity, and/or who are experiencing an emergency situation access, to healthy and well-balanced meals in campus dining halls.
Executive Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce said that he decided to get involved after being approached by Student Affairs.
“When it started, there was a lot of colleges and universities that were putting this together because we wanted an opportunity to be able to give back to the community and in doing so, the method was that we would use the students’ swipes as a counter to be able to see how much we would make our donations to the community to be.”
For every meal swipe given, a total of $2.50, the raw cost of food is donated. Last year, a total of $16,207 were donated to causes. Pierce explained why it is only the raw food cost at the moment.
“We still have an operation that’s running, we’re still paying people salaries and benefits, and we still have the overhead, so we use the raw food cost of $2.50 and we take that number and multiply it [by] however many swipes we had that particular evening.”
In addition to taking swipes in October, Dining Services is also giving students a new opportunity to donate another day during the fall semester. This event will occur on Wednesday, December 4 and all donations will only benefit the UConn Swipes initiative. Dining Services is also exploring the option of giving students the ability to donate in a more centralized location on campus such as the Student Union.
Pierce described the importance of students donating and helping others out.
“I don’t want to say it’s painless, but in essence, I always hear, ‘Well, we have extra swipes that we want to give to a cause.’ I think that if anything, just the effort alone increase the awareness that there is an issue. There is an issue not only on this campus but in the United States of having access to food. There’s a direct correlation with students eating healthy and having healthy diets and there’s several studies out there showing if students have access to nutritious meals, they’ll do better academically, and that just makes sense. It’s neat that we can be involved in this, and we’re eager and I don’t know the answer or the solution.”
For more information on UConn Swipes eligibility, students can visit the Dean of Students Office during walk-in hours in Wilbur Cross Building, Room 203, Monday through Friday 1:00-4:00 pm. Students may also contact the office at 860-486-3426 to make an appointment outside office hours or may be referred to this program.