Swipes for Hunger donates meal swipes

by Anthony Robles | 4/4/17 2:05am

Last term, Dartmouth student group Growing Change raised $4,350 in conjunction with the Upper Valley community service organization Willing Hands during its termly donation drive. During lunch and dinner hours on March 1, students could donate meal swipes and DBA to contribute towards the drive and assist Upper Valley residents in need. Growing Change will be holding another drive toward the end of the spring term.

Growing Change student director Maddie Koehler ’17 stressed the importance and impact of such donations, even minimal ones.

“At the end of [the] term, if students do have this extra money or just want to contribute to the cause, it’s so important to do so,” Koehler said. “It really does impact people. Even just a dollar goes a long way.”

The amount of money raised surpassed the highest termly total that Growing Change has recorded since the program’s inception in 2012, according to Dartmouth Center for Service program coordinator Daniel Sidder. Since the beginning of the academic school year, Growing Change has raised over $6,500, Sidder said.

Sidder attributed this rise in donations to increased awareness of the program among students, as well as more frequent opportunities for students to donate throughout the day.

“I think the students really did a great job getting the word out, collaborating with a couple of different student organizations and getting some of the posters and signs up earlier,” Sidder said. “I think that having the multiple time slots where people could donate really helped out.”

Koehler said that Willing Hands uses the donations to purchase and deliver fresh produce to non-profit organizations, food pantries and subsidized housing communities, among other places. Willing Hands executive director Gabe Zoerheide said that the drive supports food-insecure and low-income residents of the Upper Valley.

“It’s a great way for students to give back to the community,” Zoerheide added.

Sidder said that Swipes for Hunger originally started back in 2012 after an organization named Students Fighting Hunger joined with Willing Hands and Dartmouth Dining Services to create the program. After the members of this organization graduated, however, the program remained inactive for several terms before Growing Change joined with DDS to restart the project during spring of 2016.

Before Growing Change took over the program, students usually raised an average of around $1,000 per term, with the lowest donation total of $340 occurring during spring 2014 and the highest donation total of $2,500 in winter 2014, according to Sidder. Growing Change’s first term spearheading the project in spring 2016 saw students donating around $2,300, while fall 2016 also saw donations in excess of $2,000.

Growing Change member Jin Shin ’17, who originally joined the organization during her freshman year because she wanted to be involved in community service, said it was a very satisfying feeling to have raised nearly double the amount of the highest termly total to date. She said she is excited that students are becoming more aware of the program and its goals.

“It helps raise awareness for the Upper Valley communities,” Shin said. “I love that it’s caught on and that it’s our most successful term yet because that means that our message is getting out there.”

In addition to organizing a Swipes for Hunger campaign once a term, Growing Change also assists in mentoring fourth-grade students on the environmental impacts of scientific processes, which covers a wide breadth of topics that includes the water cycle and its impact on farming, among others.