A meal swipe donation for Ohio University’s meal bank will take place this week after last semester’s pilot program proved successful.

The meal swipe donation program allows students to donate up to three of their meals to Ohio University students who are experiencing food scarcity, according to a previous Post report. The program began Sunday and ends Friday.

Last semester, the meal swipe donation program brought in about 500 meals for Ohio University students in need. Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president and dean of students, said this semester the meal bank could increase its donations by an additional 500. 

“If everyone remembered to (donate meals) this one time, we’d have plenty,” Hall-Jones said.

Hall-Jones said the meal bank is working on its publicity in order to spread awareness about meal swipe donations. If every student with a meal plan donated just once, the meal bank would have more than 7,000 meals. That would be more than enough to provide for students in need.

Gwyn Scott, associate vice president for auxiliaries, spoke to OU’s Student Senate last week about the university’s Culinary Services department. During this time, Scott reminded senate about the meal swipe donation program.

Scott also said OU’s meal donation program has been more successful than other colleges’ programs. The week prior to spring break was chosen in an attempt to receive more donations — many meal swipes aren’t used before students go home for the break.

“We are looking for even greater participation,” Scott said. 

During this time, Student Senate members also asked Scott questions about the meal swipe donation program. Members asked why they couldn’t donate more than three swipes or why donations were limited to one week each semester. Hall-Jones said OU simply doesn’t need that many meal swipes.

“We don’t need you all donating every week,” Hall-Jones said. “I don’t want to waste them.”

Students who are experiencing food scarcity can apply online to be a part of the program, Hall-Jones said. After an application, students meet in person with Kathy Fahl, assistant dean of students, who is in charge of the program. Fahl will then approve students for the program, if deemed acceptable, and meals are loaded directly onto their accounts.

Meals that are donated to students in need can be used at any point throughout the semester at any OU Culinary Services location, University Spokesman Dan Pittman said.

“Meals will be loaded directly on the student’s (OU) ID card and can be used at any (dining hall), Shively Grab N Go or Boyd Market’s Smooth Moves,” Pittman said in an email. “These meals will expire at the end of the semester in which they are awarded.”

Students can help those in need in other ways beside meal swipe donation. Flex points can also be used to purchase food for the food pantry in Baker Center, Pittman said. Donations are also made to Good Works through meal swipes, Scott said. Extra meal swipes can be used in the market place to buy items that are directly sent over to the charity. That includes food items and cleaning supplies.

Scott said like most things at OU, Culinary Services decided to go “over the top” with its donation program. Additional ways for students to donate are still being explored.

“We are looking for ways for students to more fully participate in donation,” Scott said.

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