Food waste is an immense problem in the United States. By some estimates, up to 40% of food produced for consumption is wasted. You would think that this food waste would be put to good use, feeding those who need it most. Still, food insecurity remains a huge issue across the country. On college campuses, too, food insecurity is a huge issue, as undergraduate students have demonstrated in the past. Many students and people in the U.S. skip meals and go to bed hungry due to poverty and other factors.
In recognition of these issues, UConn Dining Services has partnered with the Dean of Students and a national initiative, Swipe Out Hunger, to allow students to donate a meal swipe today. Each swipe is worth $2.50, the raw price of a meal, and can be donated at all dining units during dinner hours. The swipes go to benefit the Willimantic No Freeze shelter and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. In addition, funds are supposedly being funneled into efforts to help end food insecurity amongst UConn students.
We applaud the work by UConn Dining Services, along with Community Outreach and the Dean of Students Office.
But why does this event only occur twice a semester? In theory, the program is just shifting money that students have already paid for a meal, or Grab and Go, and moving it to food insecurity efforts. UConn is not spending extra money, just shifting it around. This is especially true because we are not paying for the labor costs — again, the $2.50 per swipe figure is the raw cost of food.
And in that vein, why can we only donate one swipe at a time? If we’ve already paid for 50 swipes that semester, why can’t we donate 10 or 20 all at once?
While we do commend the program as a proactive step, we also wish it was more expansive. Students shouldn’t be limited in the number of swipes they are able to donate to important efforts in the fight to address food insecurity.