‘People depend on food, it is not negotiable:’ Swipe Out Hunger Helps Students Get Meals

By ANNELISE MILLER, CSU Student Public Relations Assistant

Three years ago, Minnesota State Mankato student, Kara Svercl sought a plan to face head-on the problem of food insecurity and students going hungry. What resulted was participating in Swipe out Hunger.

A national program, Swipe out Hunger makes an annual donation of meal swipes to the University. Students can apply for five meals through University Dining.

Karen Anderson, Student Activities assistant director of Community Engagement overseeing the program, said the pandemic highlighted food insecurity as people found it harder to access affordable or free food.

“People depend on food, it is not negotiable,” says Anderson, a Minnesota State alumna. “I wish I had something like this when I was a student.”

Students wanting to apply should visit University Dining’s Swipe Out Hunger website. When students apply for the first time, they get five swipes with no questions asked. They also receive a list of resources offering free or cheap food. Students needing more assistance will have a meeting to discuss their situation.

“We don’t do this to say ‘no,’ we do this so that we can help find solutions,” says Anderson.

Students approved for Swipe Out Hunger receive a confirmation email that also has the list of places in Mankato to get free food (three are on or near campus).

“Since so many more students are applying for swipes this year, we are encouraging people to utilize the resources in that email,” Anderson said.

There is also a map on the Campus Kitchen Facebook page that shows all the Mankato area locations. 

This year the partnership with Swipe out Hunger continues to bring benefits. As part of an annual survey for Swipe Out Hunger, the University recently was selected among 10 schools in the country to win a new refrigerator which was given to the Maverick Food Pantry. Located in Carkoski Commons, the Maverick Food Pantry is operated through University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and allows students to visit once a week to receive donated produce and groceries.

Anderson said the University successfully applied for a $3,000 Swipe Out Hunger grant that provided a second refrigerator shared by the Campus Kitchen and the Campus Cupboard. The new fridge doubles the Campus Kitchen cold storage space.

The Campus Kitchen through Community Engagement is a student-lead initiative that gathers food donated by local restaurants for meals delivered to people facing food insecurity in the greater Mankato area. Campus Cupboard in the lower level of Crossroads Church adjacent to the Performing Arts Center offers groceries and personal care items to students.

If you are struggling with food insecurity, there are resources to help you. You can find a compiled list here

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