Columbia University came up with new plans to combat student hunger with an emergency meal fund and a new student-developed app called Swipes.
“Very few people on campus were aware of the fact that there were students who couldn’t even eat,” said Ben Makansi, Columbia College Student Council president.
Makansi said the Columbia University Class Confessions Facebook page — a platform where Columbia students anonymously post about hardships they face on campus due to low-income status — brought to light the issue of food insecurity.
In early September, the student council presented the emergency meal fund to address the problem of student hunger.
The fund allows any registered student to request a maximum of six meals per semester, donated by a fellow student with extra swipes, with no questions asked about economic circumstances, Makansi said.
“Right now six is a conservative number that we agreed upon with our dining office, but they are willing to revisit the number depending on what data shows,” he said.
Makansi said the idea is to collect data to make a more informed solution in the future.
Swipes was developed when two Columbia students were inspired by CU Meal Share — another Facebook page — in mid-July. The page was created by Columbia's First Generation Low-Income Partnership to help students in need of free meals match with students who had extra swipes.