Emory Campus Dining, in conjunction with the Office of Student Success Programs and Services (OSSPS), implemented a new pilot program at the beginning of this semester to help students who are food insecure, according to Senior Director of University Food Service Administration Dave Furhman.

Those experiencing food insecurity do not have reliable access to an adequate amount of nutritious food.

The new program, titled Donate a Guest Meal, launched Aug. 29 and enables Meal Plan A students to “assist Emory students who are temporarily short on resources for food” by donating up to two meal swipes to OSSPS, Furhman wrote in an email to the Wheel. Students on Meal Plan A were notified that they could donate up to two of their 16 meal swipes in a Sept. 2 email.

Students donated almost 300 guest meal swipes by Sept. 9, which marked the end of the donation period, Assistant Director of University Food Service Administration Chad Sunstein said.

Some swipes have already been used by eligible students, Furhman said.

Emory Campus Life, OSSPS, Student Government Association (SGA) and nonprofit Bread Coffeehouse developed an emergency initiative Spring 2016 to help students staying on campus during spring break without enough food to last the duration of the break, according to Emory News Center. During the April 2016 Food Advisory Committee at Emory (FACE) meeting, Emory Dining addressed the possibility of adopting the program for the 2016-2017 academic year, FACE Co-chair and College senior Samantha Goodman said.

Over the summer, Emory Dining developed a pilot program for Fall 2016, Goodman said. The pilot will be renewed for Spring 2017, Fuhrman told the Wheel.

Students who wish to use the donated meal swipes must describe the specifics of their food insecurity to OSSPS in an online form, Fuhrman said.

The needs of each student are then evaluated by OSSPS, and students who are granted access to donated meal swipes also meet with the office to create a long-term plan that will help that student with his or her food insecurity, Furhman said.

Furhman said that he believes Donate a Guest Meal will be a critical program at Emory, especially in light of a new law which enforces tax-exempt restrictions on certain student meal plans in the state of Georgia “with which the University must comply,” he wrote to the Wheel. This law mandates that only the one individual who paid for the meal plan can use the meal swipes under Meal Plan A, Fuhrman said.

The 16 guest meal swipes, on the other hand, do not fall under the tax-exempt meal plan and instead is the result of an agreement between Emory Campus Dining and Bon Appetit, Furhman said. The two meal swipes per student that may be donated are taken from these 16 guest swipes.

Their deal allows the guest swipes to be redistributed to anyone.

Fuhrman added that Emory Dining requested that the Commission of Racial and Social Justice work in collaboration with FACE to develop the pilot program further. He explained that while Emory Dining has no involvement with the Commission of Racial and Social Justice, he believes that food insecurity is “clearly a social justice issue,” he wrote in an email.

Goizueta Business School senior Amanda Koulamas said that she believes the program will be beneficial for Emory.

“Hopefully other schools around the country will try to enact similar programs,” Koulamas said.
Samantha Goodman previously served as a staff writer for The Emory Wheel.