Sharing is caring, and that is what the SHU Shares program emphasizes and encourages. SHU Shares lends a helping hand to students who need a little extra aid in getting something to eat every day.
“This program began with the efforts of decreasing student hunger,” said Student Advisory Board member Dayna Pendino. “A lot of students, including myself, have taken meal swipes off of their cards to give to others and have received a piece of paper that could easily be lost.”
SHU Shares was established this year and aims to battle food insecurity on campus. The project recently launched campaigns like meal swipe donations and giveaways to spread awareness and combat food insecurity.
“SHU Shares is a student-run organization that is sponsored by the Volunteer Programs and Service Learning Office in collaboration with SHU Dining,” said Student Board member Brianna Thomas. “The goal of the project is to hopefully tackle the issue of food insecurity on our campus but also spread awareness of the social justice issue and enact more change.”
Throughout the week of March 15, the organization hosted a donation week to allow students to donate their own meal swipes to support others who may lack meal swipes. Students were able to choose the number of meal swipes based on their own meal plan. The Pioneer Plan allows students to donate up to five meal swipes a semester, while the Big Red Plan allows for 10 and the Premium Plan for 15.
In addition to SHU Shares, there are also programs for “increasing accessibility to information regarding SNAP eligibility and enrollment and a locally located food distribution site that will be staffed by SHU volunteer students,” according to Dean Maryanne Davidson. “Other opportunities to address student well-being may also be incorporated over time,” said Davidson. “The goal is to improve student well-being. A healthy student is one who will be able to excel.”
Students have gotten the word out through SHU Shares’ various social media accounts, like Instagram, to share information about donations across campus.
Students are able to donate in a variety of ways that are both easy and safe for everyone involved.
“Students can get involved by scanning the QR code around campus that allows students to donate their meal swipes,” said Pendino.
“Students can also get involved through donations, following our campaign online, sharing and reposting material on different social media platforms (@shu_shares), and spreading the word to friends/peers while on campus,” said Thomas. “This raises awareness about the importance of food security and the mission of ending food injustices on our campus.”
The organization has shown great success in the number of meal swipes donated and has hit the ground running on campus with its donations week.
“Students have been loving the program. We already had over 600 swipes that had been donated over a two-week span! Our SHU Shares team did not really have a set goal for how many swipes we would get; however, this is wonderful,” said Pendino. “Many students have been fully engaging in this great opportunity, diminishing campus hunger one swipe at a time.”
“Through the giving nature of people who attend and support this campus, it’s not a surprise to me seeing how members in the community have been so giving and shown so much support to this movement,” said Thomas.
SHU Shares has helped bring awareness to the often underlooked problem of student hunger on campus. As of publication, there have been more than 1,000 meal swipes shared, as well as over $26,000 donated, according to the most recent Coronavirus Planning Team email.
For more updates and to help eliminate student hunger one meal swipe at a time, follow SHU Shares on Instagram (@shu_shares).
“Many students may be struggling in silence because they do not want to be judged, but this program is completely anonymous, allowing students to conquer their hunger,” said Pendino.