While Penn lets upperclassmen opt out of purchasing a meal plan, many students at other colleges and universities are unable to escape campus dining.
According to a recent New York Times article, an NYU graduate student founded Share Meals in 2013 with the goal of matching students with extra swipes with students who do not have enough. The student, John Chin, wants to tackle "hunger and loneliness" and encourages donors and recipients to sit down and eat together. NYU Dining Services even allows him to set up booths in the school's dining halls in order to promote further awareness.
Share Meals' website states that it matched 400 students and had over 400 more waiting to donate after just one week in business.
Many students, especially those of institutions that require meal plans, are faced with a multitude of extra swipes as the semester comes to a close. A 2015 survey at NYU revealed there were 45,399 unused meal swipes from just 523 students.
At Penn last year, two students teamed up with Swipe Out Hunger, a national hunger nonprofit, to allow Penn students to donate up to two swipes worth of food to hungry families in West Philadelphia. One meal swipe provides more than a day’s worth of individual Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to recipient of the program.
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