EDITORIAL: Rowan needs meal swipe donation program to combat student hunger

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Students eat at the Chamberlain Student Center Marketplace. - Photo / Rowan University Blog

Across Rowan University, several steps have been taken in an attempt to curb the rates of food insecurity that the university is facing. Professors have begun to include clauses within their syllabi addressing students about food insecurity and Rowan’s on-campus food pantry, The SHOP. In addition, the SHOP plans to move to a larger building to expand their resources.

However, there is still an opportunity for Rowan to take to further combat food insecurity within their student population. That solution is to offer a program where students can donate their meal swipes. 

Rowan’s current policy requires that all freshmen living on campus purchase the university’s second-most expensive meal plan that provides students with 14 meal swipes a week, $100 dining dollars and $200 Rowan Bucks. These can easily be divided to two meals a day, but for the freshmen who return home on the weekend, this could potentially leave students with roughly 50 unused meal swipes at the end of the semester. 

However, according to Rowan’s meal plan options, meal swipes expire at the end of every week. That leaves the potential for four swipes to expire each week. These are meals that Rowan’s food vendor, Gourmet Dining, has the capacity to serve but instead sets expirations on these meals.

Meal swipe donation programs are not particularly unique or revolutionary. Locally, schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Montclair State University, Rutgers University and Drexel University all have meal swipe donation programs that allow for students to donate their unused meal swipes into a pot where they are then re-distributed to other students struggling with food insecurity. 

Students apply for these programs through their respective university’s portal and, if approved by the university, the meal swipes are placed onto their student ID for them to be accessed and utilized exactly like any other student that would use their purchased meal swipes. 

Not only would this program provide a quick, discrete way for students to have their basic needs met, but it would also provide some sense of normalcy for students who may feel like their worlds have been turned upside down. 

Recently, Rowan University’s 2022 Student Hunger on Campus Survey found that one in three Rowan students face food insecurity. While the university’s dedication towards expansion and growth is promising for the community, Rowan needs to address the issues the university has at its current size to ensure that every students’ needs are met. By starting small with something that students can seamlessly contribute toward, Rowan can ensure that all of their students are striving to do their best while remaining healthy. 

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