Rachel Sumekh works to swipe out hunger on college campuses

As an undergraduate at UCLA, then 18-year-old Rachel Sumekh saw that there were students on campus who couldn’t get enough to eat. “Students have enough insecurities,” she says. “We feel food shouldn’t be one of them.”

To solve the issue, Sumekh started Swipe Out Hunger, which builds on the meal plan programs already operating on most college campuses. At the end of the month, some students have leftover meals they haven’t used. Swipe Out Hunger lets them pass those unused meals along to students in need.

While still working on the project as an undergrad, Sumekh often found herself on the phone with students who wanted to launch the program at their schools, too. “It made me think, maybe I should see what happens if I try to make Swipe Out Hunger full time,” Sumekh says.

“Students have enough insecurities. We feel food shouldn’t be one of them.”

Now, at 26, social entrepreneur Sumekh has built a nonprofit that has served 1.4 million meals across 37 campuses. By utilizing a franchise model, Sumekh explains, “these university programs would still continue, even if I quit tomorrow.”

Campus managers ensure their respective administrations implement the program and then the campus social workers or financial aid offices transfer the points between accounts, creating an easily replicated model.

After Swipe Out Hunger, which is headquartered at WeWork Gas Tower, won at the New York City Creator Awards, Sumekh attended Creator Camp in London, where she connected with other Creator Awards alumni and received pitch coaching. “The real impact was the community of folks I was able to meet,” she says.

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