To combat food insecurity on campus, members of the Associated Student Government, Volunteer Action Center and Chartwells organized a meal swipe donation drive, running through Dec. 20, with the goal of raising 3000 meals.

ASG members reintroduced the meal swipe drive last spring and collected around 950 meals, 10 short of their goal of 1000, William Motazedi, ASG deputy chief of staff, said.

Of 418 students surveyed, 18% experienced very low food security, and 22% were marginally food secure, according to the 2016 Student Food Insecurity Report conducted by UA Student Affairs.

Unlike in previous years when students had to present a paper ticket to make a meal donation, students can swipe their ID cards at either the Brough or Fulbright Dining Halls to donate, Motazedi said.

Students in need can request meal swipes that will be downloaded onto their ID cards in the spring 2020 semester on an online form.

"It is very discreet," Motazedi said. "We are aware that there is a stigma with presenting the meal voucher and around food insecurity. By loading the meal onto the student ID cards, we hope to deviate a lot of pressures that people might feel to get donating a meal."

Colin Keady, a freshman, has donated eight meal swipes since Dec. 9.

"When I saw that ASG was going to be holding this initiative, I immediately know that I was going to support because I always have excess meal swipes,’’ Keady said.

Keady plans to donate two meal swipes every time he goes to the dining hall, he said. 

The meals collected will only benefit students, Motazedi said. The distribution will start next semester through the VAC, UofA Cares and Counseling and Psychological Services, which are in contact with students who are food insecure. 

Sage McCoy, the food programs coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement, thinks there is a stigma around students who are food insecure in college, she said.

McCoy thinks students do not always realize they are food insecure and are reluctant to ask for help because they think it is normal to struggle through their college experience, she said.

‘’That can mean anything from once a month (students) have to choose between getting gas for their cars or skipping a meal, or to the more extreme they often don’t know where their next meal is coming from,’’ McCoy said.

Obed Lamy is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler

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