Food for thought
When the spring semester came to an end, thousands of students across the country were trying desperately to use up the remainder of their meal plan credits. Unlike some cell phone plans, meal credits do not ‘rollover,’ so it’s either ‘use them or lose them.’ But, what if there was a better way to use those extra credits instead of letting them go to waste or stuffing yourself silly? There is!
In 2009, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) established the first Swipes for the Homeless program, which helps to provide meals to homeless shelters and those living on the streets in Los Angeles. According to Bryan Pezeshki, CEO of Swipes for the Homeless, the organization has provided over 22,000 meals since its creation, helping to feed some of the 82,000 homeless people in the area. Today, there are seven chapters, including UCLA, University of California at Berkeley and Texas State University at San Marcos, all helping to feed those in need.
The program is fairly simple. Students at participating schools donate their unused ‘swipes’ at the end of the semester. Each swipe donated is equivalent to one meal, which may include bottled juice or water, fruit bowls, noodles, granola bars, chips, canned soup and fresh fruit. In addition to the donated ‘swipes,’ many student groups also collect wasted food in the residential dining halls, fast-food eateries on campus, and community businesses, delivering it to area shelters for use on a daily basis.
These programs provide a win-win for everyone; students don’t feel they have wasted money for food they did not use, and those in need are getting nutritious meals. Just imagine how many more people could be helped if every campus in America participated in the Swipes for the Homeless program. We applaud Bryan and other students like him that are finding creative ways to meet the needs of their communities. Great job!