Meal swipe donation program launches at Wake Forest

Swipe Out Hunger seeks to aid those in the Wake Forest community who are struggling with food insecurity


Cooper Sullivan

A student swipes into the Pit using a meal plan. Students may now donate meal swipes from their meal plan to other students in need.

Addison Berry, Staff Writer

Twin sisters, seniors Lauren and Lindsay Smith, launched Swipe Out Hunger on Wake Forest’s campus last week in order to support students, faculty and other members of the Wake Forest community that are struggling with food insecurity. 

The Swipe Out Hunger team has been stationed outside of the Pit every afternoon during the first two weeks of classes accepting Pit swipe donations. Each student can donate up to three swipes per semester. 

“Those three meals will be the day’s worth of meals for someone else,” Lindsay Smith said. 

The organization seeks to impact all Wake Forest community members, not just students, with the swipes they have collected. The swipes are distributed on a five-swipe card, and individuals may apply twice per semester, receiving up to 10 swipes. Members of the community must fill out an application at the Chaplain’s Office to see if they qualify.

Swipe Out Hunger has collected more than 400 swipes already. 

The Smiths first read about Swipe Out Hunger in a New York Times article, during their freshman year, and immediately wondered why the program was not at Wake Forest.

 “We had heard about people doing ‘Pit sits’ — where you sit in the Pit all day if you don’t have enough swipes — [and we heard about] students who were food insecure,” Lindsay Smith said. “We were just curious why we didn’t have that so we went from there.”

The sisters took it upon themselves to bring the organization to Wake Forest. After experiencing setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, Swipe Out Hunger at Wake Forest University launched for the first time this year. 

According to its website, Swipe Out Hunger is the leading nonprofit organization addressing hunger among college students. Founded at the University of California Los Angeles in 2010, the organization empowers leaders on the ground to support students without access to meals and address student hunger through legislation and policies. The movement has a presence at more than 450 colleges across the United States and Canada, now including Wake Forest.

As the co-presidents of the new organization, Lauren and Lindsay Smith have high expectations for the ways Swipe Out Hunger will impact the Wake Forest community. 

“What we’re hoping and envisioning is the same thing that works at other schools all across the country — students who are in need are able to redeem swipes,” Lauren Smith said. “And it might not be kids who are on financial aid, or it might not be students who are already receiving help, but you never know when someone’s going to go without a meal. And, obviously, you never want that to happen.”

The co-presidents chose an organization that uses meal swipes rather than financial support because it provides students with a unique opportunity to impact their peers in an easily accessible and tangible way. They also acknowledge that those without Pit swipes may lack community in addition to food.

“The dining hall is a community space too,” Lauren Smith said, “So that’s kind of a nice aspect to give someone access to engage in a community space.” 

Ultimately, the two believe that Swipe Out Hunger is directly in line with Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate. They hope their organization will destigmatize food insecurity and help students understand the struggles their peers may be enduring. As seniors, they also hope Swipe Out Hunger will outlive their graduation.

“You never know what’s going on behind the scenes,” Lauren Smith said. “There are people out there that we don’t know about who should feel comfortable getting the help that they need.”

Correction Sept. 6: The above article was edited to correct the spelling of Lindsay Smith’s name.