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Pilot program aims to help address food insecurity on campus

Hundreds of Queen's students donate meals and ‘Swipe It Forward’.

For some Queen’s students food insecurity is a reality. They skip meals because they can’t afford to eat, and a chronic lack of daily access to healthy food affects their academics and well-being.

[Ban Righ Dining Hall]
Through the Swipe It Forward program, Queen's students on meal plans were able to donate a meal that was then made available to a student in need. (University Communications)

To help increase options for these students, the Division of Student Affairs piloted an initiative this past term that gave students an opportunity to ‘Swipe It Forward’. Students on meal plans, who don’t always use all of their weekly allotment of meals, were invited to donate a meal that was then made available to a student in need.

Since February, more than 1,000 meals were donated and ‘forwarded’ to students who accessed the program through student services partners, that include Student Wellness Services, the Interfaith Chaplain, the Ban Righ Centre, and Queen’s University International Centre.

“We recognize that food insecurity is part of a larger issue related to access to education for students with limited financial resources,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “Swipe It Forward is meant as short-term support – an additional option to the AMS Food Bank and other supports on campus. It is also a way that students on meal plans can easily help their peers, and we are grateful to all of our students who participated by donating an unused meal.”

The meals were quickly loaded on the students’ student card, like all meals on the meal plan, and could be redeemed in the dining halls or at campus retail food outlets, without any identifiable connection to the program. The program was modelled on similar initiatives at universities in the U.S., and was designed to be simple so it could quickly meet a short-term need.

“We will continue to consult with our program partners, students, faculty and other institutions to learn more about how we can effectively support students who are dealing with food insecurity,” says Ms. Tierney. “We are sensitive to the stigma that many students feel about their situation, and we want to keep exploring ways to meet their needs and help them succeed.”

Learn more about Swipe It Forward.