In the summer of 2021, Transact announced a new strategic partnership with Swipe Out Hunger – the leading nonprofit addressing hunger among college students. Even though I attended intracity universities, I knew very little about how prevalent the issue of food insecurity is on today’s college and university campuses, and I am not alone. Did you know that nationally, one in three college students faces food insecurity and hunger? This issue is rarely discussed due to the stigma around the low-income label but Swipe Out Hunger, with partners like Transact, is working to raise awareness and generate productive, necessary conversations on college campuses.
Research has proven that food insecurity threatens a student’s ability to focus on class, stay in school, and even their ability to feel part of the campus community. Swipe Out Hunger has a presence on more than 385 college and university campuses in the U.S. and focuses on student empowerment as a means to end student hunger. Swipe Out Hunger and its partners design and implement a range of anti-hunger programs across campuses. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Swipe Out Hunger provided 500,000 meals to students nationwide. Since its inception, Swipe Out Hunger has provided more than 2.5 million nutritious meals to students in need.
The organization was founded by a group of friends at the University of California Los Angeles in 2010. Swipe Out Hunger has centered its focus around on-campus solutions, policy and advocacy pathways, and student empowerment practices to address food insecurity on college campuses.
Through the partnership with Swipe Out Hunger, Transact is donating meals and distributing information about hunger prevention initiatives to campus representatives nationwide through a series of “Food for Thought” informational in-person and virtual events. For every higher education representative who participates in the events, Transact donates one meal to Swipe Out Hunger.
In October 2021, Swipe Out Hunger announced its acquisition of the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA), which is a professional organization of campuses focused on alleviating food insecurity among U.S. college students. CUFBA consists of more than 800 campuses, which were all invited to join the Swipe Out Hunger network through this acquisition. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, college campuses have seen an increased demand for pantries. CUFBA saw an opportunity to partner with an organization like Swipe Out Hunger that had a well-established infrastructure to meet the moment.
According to a recent Chegg.org and Swipe Out Hunger report, nearly one third (29%) of college students have missed a meal at least once a week since the beginning of the pandemic. During the pandemic, more than half of all students have used off-campus food banks. The CUFBA and Swipe Out Hunger partnership will allow campus pantries to gain access to Swipe Out Hunger resources, including microgrants.
Another significant element of Swipe Out Hunger’s action plan is its policy and advocacy work. The organization advocates for legislation like the Hunger Free Campus Bill at the state level and even supports federal legislation to end student hunger. Swipe Out Hunger trains students to champion their own basic needs and to develop their own advocacy efforts.
The Hunger Free Campus Bill was designed by Swipe Out Hunger and was first passed into law in California. The bill provides funding to public colleges that are addressing student hunger on campus. The bill is designed to be customized to meet the unique needs of each state, and it allows colleges to start a Swipe Out Hunger program, establish food pantries, and to create SNAP enrollment opportunities. In total, $70 million has been distributed through Hunger Free Campus legislation.
Transact always strives to provide and support solutions that meet the needs of today’s college student. We believe firmly that a student should never have to choose between their education and eating. For so many reasons, we are proud to continue growing our partnership with Swipe Out Hunger for years to come.
Paul Lehmann helps companies understand market driven opportunities and invest in projects that provide optimal growth. He leverages the experiences that come from over 50 successful product launches that have helped business in consumer, B2B and government sectors. In 2020, he joined Transact’s product management team with a focus delighting clients and their patrons through the Campus Commerce point-of-sale systems and their seamless integration with Transact Payments and Campus ID solutions.