Photos by Kaelin Mendez
A coalition of clubs and organizations on campus including Swipe Out Hunger, Dining Services, Student Affairs, SGA, Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Food Recovery Network are working to target and combat food insecurity on campus, Stacy Rothberg, associate dean of Student Affairs, said.
Their plan is to institute a program that will allow students to donate up to $40 in meal points at the end of the fall semester. The points will be transferred to guest services cards to be distributed to students who would otherwise be skipping meals, Armando Martinez, president of the Swipe Out Hunger Pepperdine chapter, said.
“At Pepperdine, [food insecurity] might be one of those issues that people don’t necessarily think about because [Pepperdine] is usually thought of as an affluent, sheltered school,” Martinez said. “I myself even know people who don’t necessarily get meal plans or have issues paying for food and will reduce the amount of meals they eat per day.”
To further assess the issue of food insecurity at Pepperdine, a survey will be sent to students Oct. 4, Rothberg said. The survey was approved by the Institutional Review Board with the help of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.
“This FARE (Food Access Resource) survey is going to be sent out to returning sophomores, juniors and seniors to get a sense of students frequency of eating balanced meals and their food accessibility,” Rothberg said. “Are students able to have three healthy meals per day? If not, what are some of the challenges? The survey is voluntary and all responses would be strictly confidential.”
The data from the survey could help solve the problem of food-insecurity on Pepperdine’s and other’s campuses, Rothberg said.
This initiative will follow a similar format as the meal point drive that takes place in the spring, but instead of donating points to buy food for people in the greater LA area, the meal points will go to fellow students who are struggling.
The meal point drive last spring raised $7,000, Rothberg said.
“Imagine if that could happen this fall and again in the spring where the points would be directed towards Pepperdine food insecurity? That would be incredible,” Rothberg said.
The fall drive will likely take place during the annual Week of Hunger and Homelessness, hosted by the Pepperdine Volunteer Center, Nov. 12-16, according to the Pepperdine Volunteer Center Community Page.
“I think it’s a great program because a lot of [students], particularly a lot of freshmen, have a very high number of meal points on their cards and a lot of that ends up going to waste,” sophomore Abby LaPine said. “A lot of those meal points go to waste when they could be serving the Pepperdine community.”
Although many organizations are working together, students are spearheading this initiative and taking action for their food-insecure peers.
“I am very proud of the student organizations, SGA, Food Recovery Network and Swipe Out Hunger, because they’re full-time students who are really making food insecurity a priority,” Rothberg said. “It’s nice to see Waves helping out other Waves.”
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