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Student organization partners with OU food pantry to cut down on meal plan waste

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Swipe to Share

Marketing freshman Meghan Hettenhaus purchases lunch at O'Henry's at Cate Center March 24. As part of the new Swipe to Share initiative, students with meal plans can donate unused points to creating care packages. 

A new student organization will soon allow students to use their leftover meal plan points to donate food to students in need.

Swipe to Share became a registered student organization in October 2016, and utilizes OU meal plan points to cut down on meal plan waste, said Yaseen Shurbaji, industrial systems and engineering freshman and co-president of the organization. 

A donation drive will take place from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday from April 17 to May 12 at Xcetera, where students with extra points can use them to buy food and hygiene products for students who cannot afford them, Shurbaji said. 

Items will be cataloged by Swipe to Share and transported to the OU food pantry, the organization's partner, Shurbaji said. 

The drive is half of a two-part initiative in which meal points will be utilized this semester and meal plan exchanges will be able to be used by next year. The Swipe to Share team began with points as an easier start because they are readily available for transaction, Shurbaji said.

Shurbaji and his roommate, mechanical engineering freshman Lucas Karinshak, founded the program after moving in on the Thursday before the first week of classes in August and witnessing students trying to use their meal exchanges before they reset on Saturday, Shurbaji said. 

Shurbaji and Karinshak met with Dave Annis, associate vice president and director of OU Housing and Food Services, and Frank Henry, executive director of Housing and Food Services, in August and developed the plan until its final approval by Housing and Food Services on Feb. 28, Shurbaji said. 

Students wishing to get involved with the organization can apply to be a liaison, which involves promoting Swipe to Share through posting on social media. Applications can be found on OrgSync

Swipe to Share received 50 liaison applications in its first day of going live, and 64 shares on its first Facebook post, Shurbaji said.

“This is a way for us to help stock the OU student pantry, and because a lot of the products you can buy from Xcetera, their expiration dates are a year, two years, these items will stay good over the summer and we can help stock the pantry for the coming year,” Shurbaji said.

Students in need and anyone in the homeless community can benefit from the program, Shurbaji said. 

"Students on campus need to eat, they need to have hygiene products, they need to have deodorant, but thousands of points are being wasted every semester because there hasn't been a way for us to accomplish doing that for those students," Shurbaji said.  

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