USC Swipe Out Hunger begins annual drive

The USC chapter of Swipe Out Hunger, a student organization that collects unused dining dollars to donate to charity, is hosting its Fall 2015 “Swipes Week” from Monday through Friday.

Swipes Week occurs during the last week of classes each semester to encourage students to contribute their leftover dining dollars to Swipe Out Hunger, which in turn donates food to Jovenes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless youths become integrated members of their communities.

“We think of [Swipe Out Hunger] as a win-win-win,” said Katelyn Kulaga, the organization’s president. “USC gets to donate food, we get to feed the homeless and students are empowered to make a difference simply by giving their dining dollars.”

During Swipes Week, volunteers set up tables in front of EVK and Parkside from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to spread awareness for the campaign and sign up participants to donate. Swipe Out Hunger also uses Tapingo and Google Forms to register interested students.

Jovenes, the nonprofit organization that receives USC Swipe Out Hunger’s proceeds, provides housing and community-based services to homeless and at-risk 18-25 year-olds. Their mission is to give them opportunities to become productive citizens and make better lives for themselves. Through dining dollar donations, Swipe Out Hunger has served thousands of meals to these underprivileged youths throughout Los Angeles.

Swipe Out Hunger was founded in 2009 at UCLA and has grown rapidly since, with 14 chapters nationwide. USC’s chapter of Swipe Out Hunger, active since 2012, partners with USC Hospitality to convert dining dollars into pounds of food that is donated on behalf of the organization. Volunteers help to distribute the food on “Giving Day,” which takes place during the first week of the following semester.

Madelina Pratt, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, said she donates because of the tangible impact it has on those in need.

“So many people don’t ever use their swipes towards the end of the year,” Pratt said. “After volunteering on Skid Row, I saw firsthand that many people don’t have any food at all, yet we have more food than we could ever eat.”

Swipe Out Hunger is also currently hosting a food drive to donate canned goods to the Los Angeles Food Bank. Cans are being accepted at Ground Zero and Smiles’ Cafe until Friday.

The organization is also seeking to expand the volunteer opportunities available to students to provide Trojans with more ways to fight homelessness in Los Angeles.

“We want to make volunteer outreach a bigger part of Swipe Out Hunger,” said Daniel Knupp, vice president of events coordination.

Knupp’s goal is to create events every semester for students to work at food banks and give back in a direct way, and Kulaga emphasized student involvement.

“What’s most important is to get more people involved in helping out a great cause,” she said. “Swipe Out Hunger is an easy way to make a difference.”