Hunger amongst college students is a major problem—I think we can all agree on that. It touches and affects students who run out of meal-plan swipes as well as single parent/non-traditional commuters who are fighting and scraping their way towards graduation in hopes of embarking on a new and more positive professional experience. It spares no one.
Last semester in an article titled “It’s Hard to Study When You’re Hungry,” we saw the staggering numbers related to student hunger. They brought to light an epidemic not in some far corner of the country, but here in South-East Tennessee. These numbers show a disturbing trend of food insecurity among students despite their best attempts to be self‑sufficient.
I didn’t mince words about what action I thought should be taken: “I implore our outstanding institution, both students and faculty, to pick up the torch and truly do good on the largest possible scale.” I was of course referring to fighting the epidemic of student hunger. It’s one semester later and Maryville College has answered the call.
From Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, MC students will be able to donate one swipe when entering Pearsons Dining Hall. These swipes will go into a fund controlled by the Office of Student Affairs and will be available to students who are battling food insecurity.
“Swipes for Scots” is a pilot program being used to gauge the willingness of students to donate swipes as well as to gauge the level of need for the program itself. While the need for this program may not be overwhelming here at MC, if we can help just one of our brothers or sisters, it will be worth it. What are we if not a family of students and faculty striving towards self-betterment?
I spoke with Dr. Melanie Tucker, Dean of Students and Vice President of Maryville College, to gather more information about the structure of the program as well as to gauge its reach and limitations. The fliers say “donate one guest meal swipe” so I wanted to know if that was one per meal, one per day, or one for the entire week.
“During the initial week for donating, students may donate one “guest” meal swipe. Should interest arise to identify additional opportunities to donate in the semester, we can certainly partner with Metz to do so,” said Tucker. This limitation of donations means that student participation is essential for this program to succeed.
Most importantly, I wanted to know when the swipes would be available to students, and how a student might go about obtaining a swipe if in need.
“Beginning February 4th, donated meal swipes will be available for students experiencing food insecurity. Students seeking to utilize one or more of the donated swipes will contact the Office of Student Affairs, located in Bartlett Hall, room 327. The Assistant Dean of Students and I can assist students seeking to use donated meal swipes. Additionally, we’ve created an Emergency Resources group who can assist students in identifying community resources which may be helpful as well,” said Tucker.
Maryville College has taken the first step in combating this epidemic, and now it’s in the hands of the students. Imagine having to choose between eating or filling your gas tank to get to school—or even worse, imagine choosing to fill your gas tank and then realizing that you’ll be hungry for the foreseeable future as a result.
No student deserves that. It is up to us to ensure this fund is full for students in need because that is how we can “do good on the largest possible scale.”
Donate a swipe during the week of Jan. 28 and help end hunger at MC. Students are the foundation of this great institution and without a solid foundation, the structure will surely fall. We as Scots need to ensure we keep our foundation strong and moving forward.
This limitation of donations means that student participation is essential for this program to succeed. Donate a swipe during the week of Jan. 28 and help end hunger at MC.