Swipe Out Hunger Initiative Minimizes Food Insecurity at GC

Swipe+Out+Hunger+Initiative+Minimizes+Food+Insecurity+at+GC

Raleigh Hutchison

 

Three years ago Swipe Out Hunger, an organization to diminish food insecurity on college
campuses, was brought to GC when then freshman, Kendyl Lewis, saw a need for change in her
community.

In the fall of 2017 Kendyl Lewis noticed the waste of meal swipes piling up as she opted to not
use the meal plan her parents previously paid for. Instead of letting the money and food go to
waste Lewis looked around campus and noticed that students suffering from food insecurity were
among her, and these seemingly distant statistics of people going hungry were among her peers.
Immediately she collected a small team of friends and started brainstorming solutions.

“Honestly, I would not be the person I am today without Kendyl,” said Ava Leone, senior mass
communications major opened with. The two were roommates freshman year when Lewis got
the idea to make a change. Lewis reached out to Leone, who served as secretary for three years,
and the two became incredibly passionate about food insecurity on college campuses and made it
a goal to solve GC’s.

Lewis, Leone and the rest of their executive team worked tirelessly tabling, hosting events,
contacting administrators and educating themselves on Swipe Out Hunger during spring
semester of 2018. Their biggest goal at this time was gaining traction and growing as a
community. Quickly they realized they weren’t the only students concerned about service.

“We work with dining here at GC. They were nice enough when we first started the program to
donate 500 meal swipes. Which came from wasted meal swipes that students hadn’t used for the
past couple of semesters.” explained Lewis. “So really every student that had a meal plan and
didn’t fully utilize it ended up helping out other students.”

Lewis explained that the Swipe Out Hunger form is available for any student of GC to fill out.
The form was specifically made to be as minimally intrusive as possible. Students are only asked
to explain why they need extra meal swipes.

“This can be as simple as I can only work 5-10 hours at my job and it’s not enough to help me
with groceries,” said Lewis. The swipes that applicants will obtain come either from excess meal
swipes or the Seat at the Table Scholarship.

Lewis recently initiated the Seat at the Table scholarship which has become their major form of
service on campus.

“We also established a scholarship with the foundation here, the Seat at the Table Scholarship.
Any donors at the school, even faculty members can donate part of their paycheck to the
scholarship. This goes to fund additional meal swipes beyond those that come from excess meals
swipes of students,” said Lewis.

The Seat at the Table’s mission was slightly altered last fall when COVID-19 shut down campus.

“It was really difficult, in the beginning, to figure out how do we now adapt to the new
constraints we have. The Swipe Out Hunger form operates on students receiving free meal
swipes to swipe in the MAX, well when campus shut down that wasn’t useful anymore. So we had to come up with a way to help students with campus being closed,” said Lewis. “We changed the mission of the scholarship, temporarily, to give out grants essentially so students would have
money to purchase groceries.”

Swipe Out Hunger works very closely with the school to have the power to pivot and reach all
their goals.

Leone expressed gratitude for the short term and long term impacts of Swipe Out Hunger.
“Hosting canned food drives, working at the LEC (life enrichment center), and doing soup
kitchens, and the long term goal of the new food pantry. Being exposed to the hybrid of long and
short term goals for an organization is really helpful – especially when working in a social area
that is really striving to help people,” said Leone.

The food pantry is one of Lewis’ greatest dreams coming true. She says it’ll be easily located on
campus filled with fresh produce and canned goods so students can grab supplies to make dinner
or a quick snack before heading into class. The accessibility of the food pantry is truly
diminishing food insecurity by creating a place where students can trust food will be available.

Swipe Out Hunger has shown both Leone and Lewis that their hearts lie in nonprofit
organizations and they intend to continue this service post graduation.

Lewis and Leone admitted to struggling with balance throughout their college career. But their
passion to fulfill the mission of Swipe Out Hunger drove them to establish this organization and
push through any phases of burn-out.

Lewis opened up humbly adding that the initial executive board allowed for the organization to
rise up and she was able to learn a great deal about teamwork and leadership. Leone admits the
team is a tight group of friends and none of them would be where they are without Swipe Out
Hunger.

“Having that team of people that were so helpful and cared so much about the organization made
it so much easier on my end to lead this group of people. The team is truly the ones who got this
organization off the ground. Without them keeping me on track I don’t think I would have been
able to do anything that I did,” said Lewis.

Working diligently and consistently, Swipe Out Hunger is able to reduce food insecurity one
college campus at a time.