College’s virtual food bank keeps students from going hungry

DURHAM — When Alana Davidson’s research revealed that 25 percent of her fellow students at the University of New Hampshire had experienced hunger, she was shocked.

She decided to do something about it.

Thanks to her efforts, UNH recently started the “Swipe It Forward” program, allowing students, faculty and others to donate to a virtual food bank to provide meals for students who would otherwise go without. The meals are stored on swipe cards that let students eat at campus dining halls.

“What we’re trying to do here is create awareness of the issue and say to students: You’re not alone. There are resources here that can help,” Davidson said. “We want you to be successful.”

Davidson, a 21-year-old nutrition major from Hamden, Conn., said it’s a bigger problem than she realized.

After her freshman year, Davidson was a summer intern at a mental health center in New Haven, Conn., working on a project to provide healthier food for clients on public assistance.

“It really opened my eyes to hunger issues,” she said. “Growing up, I had never thought too much about it.”

Returning to UNH that fall, she started to do research among college students. She said the U.S. Department of Agriculture looks at household and childhood hunger, “but they don’t look at college students.” Read more…

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