Rice University has brought back its Guest Meal Swipe Donation Program after halting the initiative during the fall semester. The meal swipe donation program was initially designed to help address food insecurity for Rice students by enabling on-campus undergrads on 20 meals-per-week plans to donate any unused meal swipes to off-campus peers.
As reported by The Rice Thresher, 1,443 meal swipes have been donated this semester leading to the program's full reinstatement. The program was designed and implemented at the beginning of 2020 after campus administrators recognized the high number of meal swipes that were going unused -- as many as 7,000 unused swipes as of the fall 2017 semester.
The donation program is intended to serve students living off-campus who either can't afford board plans or are in need of a meal.
However, due to a sharp decline in registrations last spring, the program was rendered inactive beginning September 2020. Those close to the program attribute the trend to COVID-19 and a smaller eligibility pool as fewer students were living on campus.
The pandemic did, however, create more need for meal donations. With a myriad of challenges including increased unemployment and reduced hours for working students, food insecurity concerns rose among the campus community. As a result, administrators believe that the Guest Meal Swipe Donation Program is even more important now than it was previously.
According to the Rice Guest Meal Swipe Donation Program website the program is providing access to hot meals via the Residential College Serveries, and is a collaborative effort between the Student Association, Housing and Dining, Student Success Initiatives, and the Dean of Undergraduates Division.
Under the program, students with 20 meal-per-week plans may donate between one and five of their guest meal swipes to off-campus students in need. Participants must fill out the swipe donation form. Undergraduate students with demonstrated need, and who do not currently have an on-campus meal plan, can request to be considered for the guest swipe program by filling out a swipe request form.