In the span of only one day, William & Mary students donated 1,360 hot meals to the Campus Food Pantry by simply swiping their ID cards at one of the university’s dining facilities.
Through a partnership with Swipe Out Hunger, students visiting either Commons Dining Hall or Sadler Center’s Center Court on Dec. 5 were able to donate a hot meal to those in the university community with food insecurities.
Each swipe was worth one meal at one of William & Mary’s all-you-can-eat dining halls. The Campus Food Pantry, located at the Wesley Foundation on Jamestown Road, will distribute the meals via vouchers when school is in session.
“I was thrilled when I learned that the student body donated 1,360 swipes, especially considering this was our first swipes drive,” said Sammie Cooper ’20, founder and president of the W&M chapter of Swipe Out Hunger. “I am hopeful we can make this even bigger in the future as awareness grows.”
Jason Aupied, resident district manager of William & Mary Dining Services, said the goal for the campaign was 1,000 donated swipes.
“We were excited by the amazing number of donations. I think it speaks to how strong the William & Mary community is and the students’ desire to be good members of the community,” Aupied said.
The pressure of impending exams and the upcoming holiday didn’t deter the Tribe students.
“I think the timing of the drive speaks volumes,” said Melissa Strain, marketing manager of W&M Dining Services. “Even when people are worried about Christmas shopping and things like that, it's nice that they're also motivated to give back to their community.”
Cooper said she talked to some students who had only a few swipes left on their cards, but they were still eager to donate.
“This definitely shows the generosity of the student body,” Cooper said. “We are also very grateful to dining services for working with us on this project, and we hope that we can work together to grow this program even more in the future.”
In addition to the most recent Swipe Out Hunger drive, William & Mary students have also donated dining dollars to help pay for non-perishable food and hygiene products distributed by the Campus Food Pantry.
“These young people want to give back to the community,” Strain said. “We’ve already had students reach out and ask if we can do more. They’re always looking for other ways that they can help out, even if it’s just a little bit.”
Swipe Out Hunger is a national movement that has reached more than 100 colleges to date. The William & Mary chapter began last spring thanks to the efforts of Cooper, Sarah Riley ’20 and other charitable students.
“I knew there were many people who struggled to get enough to eat,” Cooper said. “A meal swipe donation program seemed like the perfect way to help combat food insecurity. When I heard about Swipe Out Hunger at other schools, I knew I had to do anything I could to bring it to William & Mary.”