Suny Delhi

SUNY Delhi on May 29 became the first SUNY school to launch a meal swipe donation program, called Swipe It Forward, which will be implemented on campus this fall. 

SUNY Delhi's Food Insecurity Task Force collaborated with Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit organization working with more than 80 campuses nationwide, to develop the program, according to a media release by SUNY Delhi. Over the next six months, Swipe Out Hunger hopes to support the adoption of similar meal swipe pilot programs at more SUNY schools, according to its website. 

A play on the term "pay it forward," Swipe It Forward allows students to donate their unused meals to a meal bank that other students can request meals from, according to the release. 

Students can fill out a request form on SUNY Delhi's student engagement platform to donate some of their "bonus meals" that they'd normally use to swipe in visiting guests, said Larry Mannolini, SUNY Delhi director of the Center for Student Leadership & Engagement, in an email. 

"Since a good deal of students may not make use of these, they are an attractive option for an individual to help their fellow student," Mannolini said. 

Students can also use this form to request meals, he said. The form is anonymous, except a few staff members who add the meal requests to the student’s meal card. Then the student can use it to swipe in to the main dining hall, and no one will know they are using a donated meal. SUNY Delhi's campus auxiliary has agreed to donate a few of these "bonus meals" to kick start Swipe It Forward this fall, Mannolini said. 

Swipe it Forward expands upon existing efforts to provide stigma-free food access for students in need, said Mannolini. The college already has a food pantry and has started stocking other daily necessities like personal hygiene items and laundry products.

Though only students can donate meal swipes to Swipe it Forward, SUNY Delhi is working to get faculty and staff involved in combating food insecurity as well, Mannolini said. He said the college is hoping to start up a fund for faculty and staff to donate money that will go toward supplies for the on-campus food pantry. 

Food insecurity affects 1 in 3 college students nationally and hampers the ability to focus in class, stay in school and feel like part of the campus community, according to the release. 

"We all know that students go to college to change their lives, they're here to take a program of study and go on and conquer the world," Mannolini said. "If we can help students out that are experiencing food insecurity, they can hopefully not worry about where their next meal is coming from and focus on their studies."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at 607-441-7221 or skarikehalli@thedailystar.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ShwetaK.