Can an app help reduce food insecurity on campus?

"Swipe-sharing" service wins national innovation award as schools eye ways to relieve food insecurity among non-traditional students
By: | August 22, 2019

An app developed by a team of students at University of California, Berkeley promises to address campus food insecurity through the anonymous donation of meal swipes, between those who need them and those who have swipes to share. The team behind the app, called Bear Appétit, recently won the Modo Labs 2019 national student Ideathon competition.

A similar swipe-swapping service is provided by Swipe Out Hunger, an organization that operates at 80 colleges across the country.

Food insecurity on campus is a widespread problem, particularly among part-time and other non-traditional students. Many skip meals, subsist on low-nutrition fast food or skimp on their studies to find free food events, the Boston Globe reports.

And researchers who have studied the issue say food-insecure students are more likely to fail classes, miss out on internships and drop out of college than their counterparts, according to a report in Earth.com.


Read: The hidden costs of food insecurity on campus


Schools are aware of the problem and are taking steps to address it. At Texas A&M, for instance, the new Meals for Vets program on the College Station campus will help address hunger by providing eligible student veterans with five meals per week from campus dining halls, according to Texas A&M Today.

Like many schools, Trinity Washington University maintains a food pantry to serve hungry students, wrote President Patricia McGuire in a UB op-ed last year.“Beyond food pantries, higher education needs more substantial changes in the structure of food service to accommodate new student populations—many more low-income students, part-time post-traditional” students attending in new patterns, and traditional students facing increasing financial challenges with rising costs of attendance,” McGuire wrote.