- Associated Press - Sunday, September 11, 2016

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - By foregoing a bag of chips or a candy bar, Purdue University students can help solve local and global hunger.

That’s the goal, anyway, of the Purdue student group Swipe Out Starvation.

Students who are on university meal plans can have eight to more than 20 meals, or “swipes,” each week, depending on the plan. But many students have unused swipes on their meal cards at the end of the week, leaving the swipes to go toward extra snacks or simply go wasted.

“I knew people personally who might get 10 Twinkies or something like that,” said GiJey Gilliam. “The university isn’t happy about that, it’s not good for student life, (and) people who care about hunger and are sensitive to waste care about that for obvious reasons.”

That led to the formation of Swipe Out Starvation by a group of students, including Gilliam, who’s now graduated. Gilliam works at Purdue Christian Campus House and advises the student organization.

Since the program’s test run in 2011, students have been able to trade food items at “On-the-GO!” sites for Swipe Out Starvation cards. On-the-GO meals include four food items, so a student can choose to forgo one or all of those items and instead receive Swipe Out Starvation cards, which are each worth a 25-cent donation.

Purdue buys the cards from the student organization, which then donates the funds at the end of each semester to Lafayette Food Finders and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co., which pays a fair wage to Rwandan farmers to grow their coffee beans and also helps the farmers with basic needs.

“With the sustainability farm, we are super passionate about the fact that we have a part in allowing them to use their own resources and grow their country, and that’s encouraging to us,” said Grace Caruthers, vice president of the group.

Last school year, Swipe Out Starvation raised more than $23,000.

Now, the organization has a new leadership team that’s ready to surpass that goal and have an even larger impact locally.

“I don’t really know where it’s going to go but I’m anxious to see,” said Drake Krohn, president of the group. “We have a lot of incoming freshmen that were excited for the organization, so I think some of that bright, young energy, you know, what they have from their experiences at their hometowns in fighting hunger, could be brought here to Purdue and take this organization to a different level.”

Lisa Tetzloff, a multi-unit manager with Purdue Dining and Catering, works with the organization and said it’s gotten larger each year. She attributed the growth to a more mindful student population.

“Today’s students, they’re much more aware of what happens in the community and globally,” she said.

Krohn and Caruthers echoed the same sentiment and said they want to create a larger effect locally with the organization through partnering with Lafayette Food Finders for volunteering events.

Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

Christine Burr, development director with Food Finders, said Krohn recently contacted her to see how students could get more involved at the food bank and resource and education center.

“I have a lot of respect for what they’re doing,” she said.

With last year’s funds, the group was able to donate about $12,000 to the center, Burr said.

“For a school organization to do something like that, I was just blown away,” she said.

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Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, https://on.jconline.com/2c1Gmkj

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Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com

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