Scripps pilots meal swipe donation program for students in need

The Scripps College Malott Dining Commons. Wooden chairs and tables are set up outside a white stucco building.
For fall break, the Office of Student Engagement partnered with the Scripps Food Recovery Network and Scripps Dining Services to distribute unused meal swipes to students in need of more. (Anna Horne • The Student Life)

Over fall break, Scripps College pioneered a meal swipe donation program to address food insecurity at its campus and in the broader Claremont community.

The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) at Scripps partnered with the student group Scripps Food Recovery Network and Scripps Dining Services to collect meal swipes from students who wouldn’t be using them over fall break and distribute them to students in need of more swipes.

More than 250 meal swipes were donated and converted to physical meal vouchers available for distribution by Scripps primary contact deans, according to an email sent to Scripps students by OSE. Some of the meal swipes were also converted into 150 bagged lunches and distributed to a local pantry, House of Ruth, the email said.

For the rest of the semester, students in need of a voucher can meet with their PCDs to discuss voucher requests. PCDs can offer “temporary relief” to students while also “discussing ways to manage their concerns long term,” Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice said via email.

Ice said she could not provide the number of students who have used the vouchers thus far since “we are still in the midst of the program.”

“The plan was to make this a pilot program, evaluating the program at the end of the semester and determine if it’s viable for future semesters,” she said.

OSE has received numerous inquiries about meal swipe donations in the past, according to Ice.

“At the start of this academic year, I approached the Scripps Food Recovery Network about some exciting programs that addressed food insecurity nationally and at Scripps,” she said. “In consult[ation] with Dining Services, OSE, along with the Food Recovery Network were able to support a meal swipe donation event in mid-October.”

More than 30 percent of college students are food insecure, meaning they have “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner,” according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Scripps does not keep statistics about food insecurity among its students, according to Ice.

The college became an official chapter of the nationwide Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit that redistributes food from college dining halls to those in need during the spring 2017 semester, according to Alexi Butts SC ’20, president of Scripps FRN. 

Each of the 5Cs has a chapter, Butts said. Scripps FRN currently donates to local charities twice a week.

“Looking forward, we’re thinking about partnering with Pitzer and their FRN and maybe creating a system where we can pull from both volunteer bases where they deliver Monday/Wednesday. That way it could be 4 days a week,” Butts said.

So far Scripps FRN has been met with support, according to Butts. 

“I feel like there’s expanding support around food and food awareness and trying to partner [with local charities],” Butts said.

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