New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Swipe it Forward returns with new banking system

The student government announced changes to its meal swipe donation initiative, Swipe it Forward, at a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 14.
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Julia Smerling
NYU’s Swipe It Forward program, aimed at helping food-insecure students, comes with inadequacies. (Julia Smerling for WSN)

NYU’s meal donation program, Swipe it Forward, recently returned to select on-campus dining locations, despite limitations from NYU Eats, the organization that operates the university’s dining halls. 

The program, which began accepting donations Sept. 5 and will be fully operational starting today, will now include an online banking system to help students check their balances and view how many meal swipes are available for use. Prior to the change, every dining hall where Swipe it Forward was available had its own donation bank, whereas now donations will not be tied to a specific location.

The Student Government Assembly has led the program, which relies on students with meal plans donating their unused meal swipes, since 2019. Students who are not on a meal plan, or have a Dining Dollar balance under $15, are eligible to use donated meal swipes.

The Swipe it Forward initiative only allows students to donate three meal swipes each day, and food-insecure students can only use the donated swipes for one meal each week.

Student government chair Ryan Carney said that the SGA hopes to work with NYU Eats to eventually have students be able to donate swipes online, as opposed to solely in person. He also said the student government is looking to increase the cap on donations from three to 10 swipes per day.

“The program is extremely student-dependent for survival,” Carney said. “We feel that positive changes to the program are offset every year by the limitations placed.” 

Only 25% of students with a meal plan use the entirety of their meal swipes, Tina Panda, a senator at-large for students with basic needs insecurity, said at the meeting. Panda also said students are not able to redeem leftover meal swipes after the end of each semester due to NYU Eats regulations. 

“The limitations put on the Swipe it Forward program were not formally discussed nor agreed upon by SGA,” Panda said. “When NYU dining sent over the updated flier, the one per week limitation was printed without any further conversation.” 

The program has not expanded its dining hall locations since last spring. Students can donate meal swipes at the Jasper Kane Cafe on NYU’s Brooklyn campus, and the Lipton dining hall, the Third North dining hall, Downstein, Kosher Eatery, the UHall Commons Cafe, the Palladium dining hall, 18 Below and the Marketplace at Kimmel on its Manhattan campus. There are five locations where students can redeem donated meal swipes: Lipton, Downstein, Third North, Kosher Eatery and the Jasper Kane Cafe.

Carney said that the student government is hoping to expand meal swipe redemption to all of the program’s dining locations and continue to encourage students to donate any meal swipes they do not plan on using to help food-insecure students. 

“This program matters and has helped so many students for years,” Carney said. “We need your voice to change the program so it can work even better for more students.”

Yezen Saadah contributed reporting.

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.

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