How Sodexo is Swiping Out Hunger on Campus

Oct 30, 2019 7:00 AM ET

Rachel Sumekh

Founder and CEO, Swipe Out Hunger

As the founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, I’ve spent the past nine years devoted to a cause – ensuring all college students have access to nourishing meals.

While many are either shocked or skeptical upon hearing that 1 in 3 college students is food insecure, we should not be so surprised. Tuition has increased while the cost of living for students has increased at an even higher rate. Many of these college students were the same students who received free meals in their community’s grade schools. They hustled hard to get to college, but arrived without adequate support for their basic needs, like access to regular square meals. No student should be denied a chance at a diploma because they don’ have access to food.

The reality on campus stands in stark contrast to the stereotype we are presented in movies and popular culture. Research and anecdotal evidence confirm, however, that for many students the hardest part of college is not the academics.

My team and I have devoted ourselves to finding solutions to student hunger by founding and growing Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit led by students across the country. And, now, I am so excited to announce our largest partnership yet, with Sodexo.

In the partnership’s first year, Sodexo will help us expand to 13 schools and serve 25,000 meals to students experiencing food insecurity. 

We knew Sodexo has been working on hunger issues for years. In 1999, the company launched Stop Hunger, a foundation that provides grants to students working on hunger solutions. 

Having worked with Sodexo’s leadership for over a year, I’ve seen how we both recognize the complexity of the issue and sensitivities involved. We share a belief that the solutions that stick are both community-minded and community-based. 

Walk on any campus today, speak to any student or administrator, and they’ll tell you that tuition is only one part of a student’s burden. Supporting students’ basic needs is part of fulfilling the promise colleges make to students.

Now, with Sodexo’s partnership, we can advance this goal further than ever before. We have a shared understanding that if students are supported and their food insecurity is addressed, not only are their chances of graduating higher, but their chance for a changed life goes up. And, our chances as a society go up along with them.