The University of Southern California is constantly referred to as the “University of Spoiled Children,” or in other words, an affluent institution of higher education for privileged students. The truth is that many of us find ourselves at KazuNori more often than at dining halls, and therefore do not realize how close we are to the strife rampant throughout South Central. What happens when turn right on Spring Streetafter your sushi dinner and find yourself on Skid Row? Reality begins to sink in as you realize that South Central isn’t just the home to “privileged” USC students. On the contrary, it is dominated by thousands of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers who suffer from homelessness and hunger every single day. USC students are merely minutes away from the reality of this situation, but the question remains: what can we do to help our neighbors?
One woman made it her mission to address the issue of hunger and fight for a solution to end this injustice. Recognized on Forbes’s 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs in 2017, Rachel Sumekh has challenged the stigma of homelessness by reshaping the discourse concerning hunger on and off college campuses. Rachel began building her organization at the early age of 19 as an undergraduate student at UCLA (but a Trojan at heart).
Rachel Sumekh is the CEO and founder of Swipe Out Hunger, a nonprofit organization that allows students to donate their unused meal points by reallocating them into meals for peers and community members who struggle with hunger. Swipe Out Hunger supports over 400+ food closets on university campuses and also issues meal vouchers that allow students access to dining halls. Here’s how it works…
Swipe Out Hunger has served over 1 million meals since 2011 and has changed the lives of countless students and community members. Recognized by former President Barack Obama as a “Champion of Change,” Rachel has been pushing the boundaries of how universities battle hunger on college campuses and around the world.
Sumekh has been profiled on Sony’s “Game Changer” series in conjunction with the release of Will Smith’s movie “Concussion.” Check out the video below to learn more about the hardships Sumekh faced in launching her organization:
As college tuition skyrockets across the country, it has become increasingly difficult for universities to engage in programs that have monetary costs associated with them. However, Sumekh has successfully navigated this difficult task with grace, appealing to the pathos of high-level university administration officials. As a result, there has been a groundswell of support by students and community members alike, evoking a deep-rooted sense of community and goodwill across college campuses around the nation. For example, our very own university participates as a partner by donating $40,000 a year to help end hunger in South LA.
“Rachel creates entrepreneurs with a social impact backbone on university campuses all over the country”- Michael Maier, Mayoral Candidate and Tech Entrepreneur
By this time next year, Swipe Out Hunger plans to be operating on 36 university campuses and hopes to increase their reach internationally as well. Rachel has spread her message across 250 college campuses in the United States and her team is growing every day. The success of Swipe Out Hunger’s campaigns have been featured on:
Rachel’s guiding philosophy in leading her organization remains the same as it was from the beginning: to be the change you want to see in the world. That is to say, she instills in all of her team members a sense of purpose and significance in the work they are doing, as it is truly changing the landscape of hunger in hundreds of communities and thousands of lives. Rachel, as an entrepreneur and community leader, has great potential to effect change across the nation as she strives toward her ultimate goal to eradicate hunger and homelessness in communities throughout our country.