Swipe Out Starvation campaign helps fight, raise awareness of hunger

May 12, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An outreach program that began with a vision by Purdue University students involved in a campus ministry is helping in the local community and afar, and is likely to grow.

Swipe Out Starvation, a one-week pilot campaign in late April during which Purdue students used their meal cards to help fight hunger, went even better than expected, said its student coordinator, Peter Bender. Student donations will be able to pay for 125 backpacks for Food Finders of Lafayette. Its backpack program provides food on weekends for children who are in the free and reduced lunch program in schools.

Purdue's one-week effort also will provide funds for Heifer International, a program that buys livestock for communities around the world fighting hunger.

"The program was a major success, both from our perspective and that of the university dining services staff," said Bender, a senior who is graduating this weekend from the Krannert School of Management. "Our objective was to raise funds for hunger relief, but we also wanted to raise awareness about the issue of hunger. I think we were able to do that. It was a great opportunity, and we really enjoyed working with dining services."

The program worked like this: Students are allowed to purchase five items at a time using their Purdue meal cards at the campus's three On-the-Go sites, which are connected to the Earhart, Windsor and Ford dining halls. If the purchaser bought anything less than five items, they could pick up a Swipe Out Starvation card that was placed at the counter. The Swipe Out cards were worth a 25-cent donation. Half the proceeds went to Food Finders of Lafayette and the other half to Heifer International.

Organizers started by placing a total of 2,500 cards between the three On-the-Go sites. The program began on Monday, April 18. By Wednesday of that week, all the cards were gone. The cards were replaced by another 2,500, and those were gone by Friday. In all, the cards accounted for $1,250 in donations.

"Now that students are familiar with the program, there is the potential for us to see nearly 10,000 cards taken per week in the future," Bender said.

To help spread the word about the effort, organizers placed posters on campus. The 25-cent donation cards also carried facts about hunger on the back of them.

Jason Tennenhouse, director of the Purdue Christian Campus House, where the effort was conceived, served as co-adviser for the program. He said the effort will expand next year, possibly to three weeks in the fall semester and three in the spring.

"The program was very well planned," said Jill Irvin, director of dining services for University Residences. "The people associated with it were very organized and passionate about helping people. They developed eye-catching marketing materials, and our students responded."
Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Sources: Jill Irvin, director of dining services, 765-494-1003, jairvin@purdue.edu
                  Peter Bender, 317-989-3860, ptbender@purdue.edu