Temple, let students donate their meal swipes

The Editorial Board urges Temple to implement a meal swipe donation program, which would allow students to transfer their unused meal swipes to others who may need them.

On Feb. 2, a sign was placed at the Esposito Dining Center in Johnson and Hardwick Halls reinforcing meal swipe policies and informing students they were no longer allowed to use their swipes for anyone but themselves. 

The sign was posted because Aramark, the company that handles Temple’s culinary services, saw a recent increase in students with unlimited meal plans swiping multiple people into the dining hall.

Enforcing this policy will prevent Temple students with excess swipes from swiping in their friends for a meal at the dining hall, something many students do to help friends or spend more time with peers who may not have a meal plan. 

Preventing students from sharing their unused meal swipes restricts their ability to use the meal plan they paid for at their discretion. 

After this decision, The Editorial Board urges Temple to implement a student meal swipe donation program so students can take full advantage of the meal plans they pay for and assist others who may be facing food insecurity or financial hardship. 

Twenty-nine percent of students at a four-year school don’t have consistent access to food, according to a March 2021 study conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.

Two schools in the Philadelphia area, Saint Joseph’s University, and Drexel University, have meal swipe donation programs through partnerships with their university dining program and Aramark. These programs, HawkHUB and Feed a Dragon, allow students to easily donate their unused meal swipes to guests and fellow students by logging into their student portal and completing simple steps. 

The University of Pennsylvania also offers a meal donation program through a partnership with Swipe Out Hunger, a nonprofit organization that partners with colleges to host drives for students to donate their unused swipes. 

A similar meal swipe donation program could be implemented by Temple, as Aramark is responsible for culinary services at all three colleges. 

Temple has a meal swipes vouchers program for students facing food insecurity with 300 meal swipes available to students, however, its popularity among students has been low, wrote Michael Scales in a statement to the Temple News. 

“Realizing that low utilization could be attributed to the stigma students may feel when using a meal swipe voucher, as opposed to a normal meal swipe in the dining hall, we’ve initiated conversations with the relevant university offices to explore ways to transfer meal swipes donated by Aramark to students’ OWLcards to allow for more discreet usage,” wrote Scales, the associate vice president for business services. 

Implementing a meal swipe donation program would benefit Temple students who have limited access to healthy and affordable food. It would also relieve the stress of wondering where their next meal will come from, so they can instead focus on succeeding in school.

Temple students have to pay for their meal plans at the beginning of the semester, so they should have the authority to decide how the swipes they have purchased are used, whether it be for themselves or shared with others.  

New students living on Temple’s campus are required to have a meal plan with a minimum of 10 meals per week, however, not all students use each of their allotted meals due to personal food preferences or a busy schedule. 

Meal swipes at Temple don’t roll over to the following week, so even if students don’t use all of their meal swipes for the week, they will not be able to collect them for future use. Having the option to donate swipes prevents the waste of meal plans and makes it easier for students to share with their peers, and guests who may not eat otherwise.

By allowing students to donate their unused meal swipes to others in need, Temple can create a more supportive campus environment that encourages a social community and addresses the pressing issue of food insecurity among college students.

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