Tufts will implement changes to the Swipe It Forward program for the upcoming academic year in an effort to increase the program’s accessibility for students, according to Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate President Jacqueline Chen, who recently announced the program’s upcoming development.
Swipe It Forward, a food bank program that collects donated meal swipes as a resource for students in need, was introduced in 2017 as part of an initiative to combat food insecurity at Tufts and increase efforts to help its students.
The program, run by TCU Senate, Tufts Dining Services and the Office for Student Success and Advising (OSSA) allows students on the premium meal plan to donate one meal swipe and one guest swipe each semester and those on other meal plans to donate up to four meal swipes per semester.
Students seeking to utilize Swipe It Forward can request up to six meal swipes each semester, according to Chen, a senior.
Swipe It Forward, however, has been limited by its lack of resources. Chen highlighted that the current opt-in system results in a limited pool of meal swipes for students.
“The way that it works now is that people have to opt in to donate [meal swipes],” Chen said. “It presents a barrier for students on the premium meal plan to actually go online and donate.”
The coming change, according to Chen, will be to automatically deposit one meal swipe for every student on the premium meal plan, providing Swipe It Forward with over one thousand meal swipes to begin the year.
By implementing this change, the Tufts administration says it is working to alleviate some of the issues that limit its effectiveness. Associate Director of Student Success and Advising Margot Cardamone and Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Rob Mack, who help oversee Swipe It Forward, acknowledged the limitations to the program and said that the coming changes will help increase accessibility for students.
“We frequently run out of swipes and have had to cap the number of swipes we are able to give per student to make sure we can provide swipes to as many students as possible,” Cardamone said to the Daily in an email. “Starting in Fall 2019 Dining services has agreed to donate 1500 swipes to the program at the beginning of the semester to ensure the program starts with a strong supply of swipes.”
Chen said that the changes to Swipe It Forward will help sustain a program that has relied so far on efforts from members of the Tufts community.
“Every semester we’ve had to organize tabling, and it’s the most effective way to get people to donate,” Chen said.
She noted that the opt-in method that Swipe It Forward previously relied on meant students had to continuously solicit donated swipes.
“But we need a way to make sure this is sustained … and that the meal bank always has meals so that its always a resource for students that need it,” Chen said.
Cardamone and Mack said they believe the change, which “has been completely reliant on donations” thus far, will lead to an increase in the program’s popularity and usage.
“We are hoping that as word continues to get out about the program students see the value of donating to Swipe [It] Forward and our bank of meals continues to grow,” Cardamone said.
Cardamone encouraged students who can contribute to continue to donate to Swipe It Forward.