New program combats food insecurity with donated meal swipes

Catlett+Dining+Hall+as+seen+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+28%2C+2017.

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ashle

Catlett Dining Hall as seen on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017.

As the holiday season approaches and the spirit of giving is in the air, Hawkeyes are encouraged to give back to their campus community and help to support individuals who lack adequate food resources.

The new Hawkeye Meal Share program, organized by numerous groups and departments at the University of Iowa, seeks to combat food insecurity and hunger by allowing students to donate meal swipes and cut down on underused resources.

The program allows UI students to donate their unused or unwanted guest meal swipes to any undergraduate, graduate, or professional student on campus.

“The main focus is to support students who are experiencing food insecurity, who might struggle to pay for school, or may not be aware of certain resources on campus,” UI Student Government President Jacob Simpson said. “We want to make sure these students have healthy diets, which only helps to improve student success all the way to academics.”

Food insecurity, the lack of ability to obtain nutritious and adequate food, is a problem on college campuses often overlooked.

According to the Food Bank of Iowa website, 1 in 8 Iowans struggle with this issue, which totals around 400,000 struggling individuals.

Hunger also can lead to major costs for these individuals and the general public as well; the Center for American Progress and Hunger in America reported that there is a $130.5 billion cost due to illness linked to food insecurity and hunger and that hunger costs each citizen $542.

The Food Pantry at Iowa provides many resources to individuals who might struggle with hunger on campus. Students volunteering for the Food Pantry were approached by Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers for ideas about distribution and available resources for the Meal Share program.

“It’s not very widely known that food insecurity is a problem on campuses; it can affect people’s education if they don’t get the nutrition they need,” Rachel Whitesitt, the Food Pantry manager. “We’re hoping that this can be a comprehensive resource for those that need it, and can be another way for the Food Pantry to help students.”

Individuals from the Food Pantry, UISG, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of the Vice President for Student Life, GPSG, and Associated Residence Halls have collaborated on this program in order to provide reliable and valuable resources for those who need access to food.

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