Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Student Government is attempting to tackle the large problem of food insecurity that is being faced by students. There is a proposed resolution that would create a program for students to donate their University Dining Center meals in the form of “swipes”.
A study done by the Department of Sociology and Corrections called the “Sociology in Action Report” shows that 64% of MNSU students have experienced food insecurity in some form or another during their time at the University. Black and Asian American students are the most likely to experience such insecurity.
There are currently two main options for students facing food insecurity at MNSU. The first is Campus Kitchen, which is a student-run initiative to harvest food donated from local restaurants to make into meals to provide for students as well as people of the Greater Mankato Area.
The second option is Campus Cupboard, which is a student-oriented food shelf.
These programs are widely popular, but Student Government hopes to add a new program to help students get their needed food, while also providing the social benefits of the University Dining Center.
The program, called “Swipe Out Hunger”, is designed to give students the opportunity to apply for University Dining Center swipes, while also providing a long-term partnership, depending on the student’s situation.
“The goal of this is to help that short-term emergency, and to help students get through what they need to, so that they can be successful and stay in school,” said senator Kara Svercl, the senator responsible for bringing the issue to the Student Government.
Originating in California, the program has spread to over 112 campuses across the country. Already in Minnesota, this program has been adopted by the University of Minnesota, College of St. Scholastica, and Carleton College.
While the program would look similar, each campus has their own specialized version to better suit the needs of each university.
For MNSU, the program will be split into two major components. The first being the host office, which would facilitate the requests and distribution of the donated meal plans. The meals would be donated in blocks of five to ten meals per request. The host office also will keep track of how many requests are made by each student and flag those with consistent needs. For those with consistent food insecurity, the office will also work to connect those students with more permanent solutions such as SNAP.
The second component will be the collection of donated meals. One proposed donation strategy will be through “Swipe Drives” where students with extra meal swipes or guest swipes will be able to donate to the program. The second strategy would be to a pilot program from Sodexo, the campus food supplier, where two swipes would be donated by Sodexo for every meal plan purchased.
The motion, moved by senator Svercl, was proposed, expedited, and passed unanimously Wednesday. The Student Government will continue to work with faculty to make this program a reality.
Header photo: Kara Svercl proposes “Swipe Out Hunger” to Student Government in the Centennial Student Union Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 in Mankato, Minn. (Max Mayleben/MSU Reporter)