By Caroline Aubry
UVM has launched a pilot temporary food assistance program called Swipe Out Hunger on campus. The program provides students (including undergraduate, graduate, and medical students) that are financially struggling to purchase enough food with up to 14 free meals per academic year until a more sustainable solution can be put in place.
Students in need of swipes can stop by one of the partnered offices on the website or receive a referral from any faculty member. Students need a faculty or staff member to submit the ‘Swipe Out Hunger Meal Request’ form on their behalf which gets sent to the UVM Meal Plan Office. For more information on how to apply and or find partnered offices please visit the UVM Food Insecurity website.
Helping Allieviate Food Insecurity and Hunger on Campus
The goal of UVM’s pilot Swipe Out Hunger program is to help alleviate some of the food insecurity and hunger students face on campus during the 2018-2019 school year. The program operates as a partnership between the Food Insecurity Working Group, UVM Dining, and UVM Division of Student Affairs, and the Swipe Out Hunger national campaign.
Meal donation drives were hosted at the end of the fall semester were fellow students donated left over guest meals and raised 629 swipes! The team is sincerely grateful for their generous donations that will help fully fund 45 students in need. In the event that there is a greater need than what this bank currently has the capacity to address, the Dean of Students Office will help fund additional students.
Student food insecurity is a growing topic of concern, not just on UVM’s campus, but across the nation as well as more students attend school and costs continue to rise. While academic studies exploring food insecurity on campus have been published for nearly a decade, a report published in October 2016 surveyed students across many institutions and found that students experience food insecurity at rates significantly higher than the national average.
Catalyzed by this and other concerns, a group at the University of Vermont, headed by the Center for Health and Wellbeing, was formed to explore experiences of food insecurity in the on-campus community and has been the driving force behind the implementation of the Swipe Out Hunger pilot and other food access initiatives on campus. The group is now comprised of students, faculty, and staff from across campus offices that works collaborate together.
Swipe Out Hunger and other anti-hunger initiatives across campus are based on data collected by the Dr. Meredith Niles and graduate students during the spring and fall of the 2017. Under the guise of the Food Insecurity Working Group, they conducted a survey of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students as well as faculty and staff to determine base line levels of hunger on campus, and then re-surveyed campus in fall 2017. The surveys found that, in fact, the UVM community reported higher rates (19.6 percent in the spring and 15 percent in the fall) of food insecurity than the national and state average in 2016.
Students were the most insecure population among the campus community with one in four undergraduate students in spring 2017 and one in five students in fall 2017 reporting experiences of food insecurity. Off campus students had significantly higher rates of food insecurity at 27.1 percent in the spring and 21 percent in the fall demonstrating an “off-campus effect.”
It is important, therefore, that programs are in place on campus to help students facing food insecurity. Food insecurity creates stress that can impacts students’ academic, emotional and personal success.
If you or someone you know is facing food insecurity, or if you would like to learn more about the program please visit the UVM Food Insecurity website to learn more.
Visit one of following offices for a referral and to learn more about other available resources:
Student Health Services (SHS)
Counseling and Psychiatry Services (CAPS)
The Mosaic Center for Students of Color
Academic Coordinators (Student Services)
Office of Student and Community Relations
Student Financial Services
Dean’s Office Support Services
-Caroline Aubry is an MS candidate in the UVM Food Systems Program.