Belmont recognized its new Swipe Out Hunger initiative last Monday during the Mindful Mile Walk.
Swipe Out Hunger is a national non-profit that has already helped more than 450 college campuses create and implement anti-hunger programs.
Food insecurity is one of the most common challenges reported by students in the Office of Student Care and Support, according to Maren Bishop, the assistant director for student care and support.
“We know nationwide that one in three college students suffer from food insecurity at some point and that is true on our campus as well,” said Bishop. “It’s not necessarily something that is very visible, but it’s something that comes up pretty often when helping students with life challenges.”
The Office of Student Care and Support works with food banks and churches in Nashville to supply goods for students facing food insecurity.
“Belmont has always found different ways to partner with different community organizations to provide resources for our students who are struggling,” said Bishop. “We were really trying to think about how we could support our students on campus.”
Belmont chose to partner with Swipe Out Hunger to allow students to help their classmates personally.
“The idea is students can donate meal swipes from their meal plan to help other students in need. So, the student care and support office can give those swipes to people who really need it,” said Bishop.
Students who donated a swipe, like junior Brienna Davenport, found it to be an easy way to help their classmates who may be struggling.
“I personally don’t use my swipes every week, and I’m sure that happens a lot,” said Davenport. “So, the fact I don’t use mine every week and that there are so many people, even on campus, that don’t have access to swipes, that hit home a little bit.”
The Mindful Mile was a mile walk around campus for students to take a moment and improve both their physical and mental health. This is just one part of Sodexo’s Mindful program, which supports nutrition, health and wellness in ways outside of food.
“Sodexo does a really good job of creating events that aren’t just routed around food, things around mental health and exercising,” said Peyton Williams, a marketing specialist with Sodexo at Belmont dining services. “The Mindful Mile was one of those initiatives within that program.”
The Office of Student Care and Support hopes to continue its work with Swipe Out Hunger soon.
“We’re excited because this is kind of a good way to kick this off, see how students respond,” said Bishop. “If there seems to be an eagerness for it we can definitely find ways to do it year-round.”
PHOTO: Swipe Out Hunger table Olivia Fawkes/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Ansley Letsinger