March 19, 2019  

Current weather

Few clouds

Students Can Donate Guest Meals to Swipe Out Hunger

Main Content
Jacky Thompson, a senior from Carthage, Miss., workings the donation table for the Eagle’s Nest at the Fresh Food Company. (Submitted photo)

University of Southern Mississippi residential students have an opportunity to donate up to two guest “swipes” from their Eagle Dining meal plans as part of a new campaign to Swipe Out Hunger.

Eagle Dining and the Eagle’s Nest Food Pantry have kicked off what has become a popular program at campuses nationwide by setting up donation tables at the Fresh Food Company and other Eagle Dining locations through Feb. 9.

Eagle Dining will match every donated student swipe, and all available meals will go into a pool to be distributed by need through the Eagle’s Nest. Eligible students should be able to begin receiving donated swipes starting Feb. 21 by applying at the Eagle’s Nest, located in The Hub basement.

“We are excited to partner with the Eagle’s Nest Food Pantry for this great cause. Hunger is a real issue for students on campus, and we hope this will help those in need. We have high hopes for this program and our partnership!” says Gavin Moon, executive director of Eagle Dining.

The Eagle’s Nest allows clients to choose what they need, whether it’s canned vegetables, bread or food for their pets. Normal hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays and Fridays and 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

“This program should help us conserve pantry resources while providing healthy, nutritious food for our clients,” says Dr. Tamara Hurst, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, whose students and faculty manage the Eagle’s Nest. “The pantry offers canned foods and hygiene items. Swipes from Eagle Dining offer a variety of prepared foods. There’s something for everyone.”

Almost 3,000 students who live in Hattiesburg campus residence halls are required to have meal plans. They get five guest meal swipes each semester, and can donate one or two this semester as the plan rolls out.

Students donated more than 150 swipes in the first two days, Jan. 30-31.

Jacky Thompson, a senior social work student from Carthage, Mississippi, was registering students at the Fresh Food Company. “Students were actually intrigued by what we were doing,” she says. “Most didn’t just donate, they wanted to know what do you do at the pantry, where is it located, how will the swipes work?

“I know when I was a younger student at one point, I probably wouldn’t have stopped to donate my swipes. But, oh, gosh, I was blown away by what we accomplished the first day.”

One of the students who donated – the first, in fact – was Courtney Carver, a freshman from Lucedale, Mississippi. “Honestly, I donated my two swipes because people tend to look more toward hunger in a nationwide and global perspective, but they do not realize it is happening right under our noses in our community. If I were able to, I would donate all five of my swipes!”

Tye Christopher, a graduate in student in social work from Columbia, Mississippi, who is co-coordinating the project with Thompson, agrees that food insecurity among students is still an under-the-radar issue that needs more promotion through programs like Swipe Out Hunger.

“I think it’s something where we still have work to do. A lot of times, if people aren’t directly affected by it, they don’t get it. Though it may not affect you directly, it could affect your friend and you may not even know it.

“I feel like knowing your fellow students donated, that is strengthening the USM community as a whole and says a lot about our students. The majority of people were very willing to donate. I think our pantry clients will appreciate that so much more, knowing where it came from.”

To find which Eagle Dining location will be accepting donations daily through Feb. 9, follow Eagle Dining on Facebook or Twitter, or the Eagle’s Nest on Facebook.

Students who want to donate swipes starting Feb. 12 can fill out an application at the Eagle Dining office on the ground floor of the Thad Cochran Center or at the Eagle’s Nest. For more information, call Eagle Dining at 601.266.5376 or the Eagle’s Nest at 601.520.9733.