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Mallory Walsh waits to swipe students into Nelson Court during the meal swipe donation pilot program on Oct. 5. (FILE)

Meal swipe program accepts most students in need

Students facing food insecurity or scarcity can almost always seek aid from Ohio University’s meal bank as long as they meet certain standards.

The criteria for applying for the meal donation program is fairly loose. No documentation is required, Kathy Fahl, assistant dean of students, said. Applicants only need to communicate their need and be a student of OU.

OU’s meal swipe donation program helps funnel meals into a meal bank. Students were able to donate up to three of their meal swipes during the week of spring break to the food bank to help fellow students in need, according to a previous Post report. Those meals are then given to students who fit the criteria of need.

Last semester, the meal bank received about 500 meals, according to the same article. For spring semester, Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president and dean of students, hopes to increase that number by another 500.

When students donate their meals, the value of their donation isn’t always the same. University Spokesman Jim Sabin said that the value of a meal swipe depends on the meal plan purchased. Meal swipes for those with flex meals plans are valued at $6.50 each, according to OU Culinary Services.

The process for being approved for the meal donation program is divided into two parts. Students first go online and fill out a short questionnaire. 

“The approval process for the meal bank is a simple application in which the applicant answers a few questions about need and some additional questions to help us understand where they learned about the program and if they want information about employment opportunities in Culinary Services,” Fahl said in an email.

The applications take about 24 hours to process, Fahl said. Once the applicant is processed, applicants interview with Fahl. After an interview, Fahl decides to either approve or deny the student. If they are approved, the meal swipes are loaded onto their student account and can be used in any dining hall. 

Only two students have been denied for the program, Fahl said. Those students both had meal plans.

“We prioritize those students who don’t already have access to meals on campus,” Fahl said in an email.

Connor Spellman, a sophomore studying engineering technology and management, said that the meal swipe donation program is a good idea. However, he hadn’t heard about the program before and said that OU could do more.

“I think that’s a good step,” Spellman said. “They should have even more programs like that and try and actually find out who’s in need.”


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