Back in 2009 a group of students at UCLA got together to help alleviate hunger in their community. Their solution – Swipes for the Homeless, an organization that enables college students to donate their unused meal plan points (or “swipes”) at the dining hall to purchase meals for homeless shelters.

In less than three years, Swipes has raised thousands of dollars, donated tens of thousands of pounds of food, and expanded to several other campuses. And this March, their work was rewarded with a nod from the White House’s “Campus Champions of Change Challenge” and a visit to the White House! Swipes’ President (and Repair the World Street Team intern) Rachel Sumekh shared more about the group’s exciting day in DC. Mazel tov Swipes!

What is Swipes’ mission?
Our mission is to alleviate hunger in Los Angeles and beyond while educating the on-campus community about the massive homelessness and hunger problem in our cities and country.

How did Swipes end up getting honored by the White House?
We saw the White House’s “Campus Champions of Change Challenge” advertised and one of our founders applied. Out of over 4,000 applicants the White House selected us for the top 15, and we garnered enough votes from supporters to make it into 4th place.

What was one highlight of your day at the White House?
One of the biggest highlights was President Obama’s surprise appearance. When he walked in it was hard to believe – I actually felt like I was watching TV. He didn’t have a speech prepared just a few notes and one of his quotes that stuck out to me [which he paraphrased from another source] was, “If you’re not an idealist when you’re young then you’ve got some problems.” The entire speech and event can be found on the White House’s website. [editor’s note: if you watch the video, keep an eye on the student watching President Obama on the bottom left – he’s so psyched!]

Find out more about Swipes’ work through the video below and learn how you can get involved via their website: