Funding Our Future: Swipe it only so far forward

My stomach panged with hunger, but it was only hour 12. 

I distracted myself with exactly what any other 18-year-old would have: the endless world of Facebook. As I scrolled through my feed, I discovered a link to a Tufts online form allowing me to donate some of my meal swipes. I had never seen this program advertised, spread on social media or even presented during orientation. I eagerly clicked on the link to see what I could do.

It was Yom Kippur, I was fasting and I gladly donated what meal swipes I could. But why did it take someone’s Facebook post for me to learn about this? Shouldn’t this initiative have been introduced during orientation? I was thrilled to have found the form but frustrated that I hadn’t found it earlier. While I recognize that I am a first-year, and there is a significant learning curve to familiarizing myself with the institutions — both formal and informal — on campus, it is unacceptable that it took until October for me to learn about the ability to donate my meal swipes. 

The program I discovered is Swipe it Forward, an initiative launched in 2017 by a collaboration of student and university organizations on campus. Swipe it Forward allows students with the Premium meal plan to donate one meal and one guest meal per semester, and students with other plans to donate up to four meals per semester. The initiative was created to address student food insecurity at Tufts, allowing students to give their meal swipes to a bank of swipes that can be accessed by other students. In April 2019, Swipe it Forward expanded its program by automatically depositing one meal swipe for every student on the Premium meal plan into the meal bank. This ensures that the meal bank has a strong supply at the beginning of the year. But this change did not address the egregious disparity in swipes left over and swipes to donate each semester.

Last semester, I only used 200 of my 400 swipes from my Premium meal plan. The excessive amount of meal swipes given to, or rather required to be purchased by, first-years is a topic for another article.

With the given system, it is absurd that students on the Premium meal plan cannot donate more than two swipes each semester. Students on all meal plans should be able to donate as many meal swipes as they have left over; after all, students pay for those swipes and should not see them go to waste when other students need meals. At the very least, students on the Premium meal plan should be able to donate four swipes per semester as other students can with different meal plans. Truly though, any swipes left over should be swipes donated.

If you wish to donate some of your meal swipes, please follow this link: http://students.tufts.edu/identity-based-centers/first-resource-center/financial-resources-through-first/food-insecurities/donate.


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