My day begins when I swipe into a dining hall to pour myself a much-needed cup of coffee. I say good morning to the dining hall staff sitting behind the computer as I tap my ID and wait for it to permit me my breakfast. Mug in hand, I take a seat as a steady stream of Yalies swipe in to begin their day
similarly.

My day ends, too, with a swipe. I open my college gates and let myself into my entryway after trekking home from a night in the library. I feel the warmth of the radiators letting me know I can shed my jacket and get ready to have a good night’s rest.

It may be a small act, but swiping our ID is a universal experience for every Yale student. Understandably, we don’t put a whole lot of thought into it, but the power of each swipe is worth considering. Today, students will swipe to enter laboratories on Science Hill, where they engage in cutting-edge research. Others will swipe into Sterling Library and pore through historical archives for a thesis. First years and faculty alike will swipe into buildings for the hundreds of classes that happen each day.

I want to call your attention to another way your swipe can be extraordinarily powerful: it can provide a meal and overnight shelter for a New Haven resident in need. This Friday is the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project (YHHAP) Fast, the biannual fundraiser where students can choose to donate the monetary value of their meal swipes to support local organizations serving the city’s most vulnerable residents. The YHHAP Fast has become a Yale tradition. Thousands of students have participated in this fundraiser throughout its history.

Last semester, over 1,300 Yalies joined together to make a remarkable impact by raising over 10,000 dollars to provide support for three critical New Haven organizations. The HOPE Family Justice Center was one of the recipients; your swipes helped provide funds to support HOPE’s case management services for victims of domestic violence in New Haven. Moreover, your donations came at a critical time: the organization’s opening of a new office downtown.

I have even more good news: signing up for the Fast is extremely straightforward. It takes only three clicks. In your SIS portal, click “Dining,” then “YHHAP,” then “Yes.” It’s that easy.

This semester, your donated swipes will benefit two vital New Haven organizations. Martha’s Place, a homeless shelter on Howard Avenue, provides emergency housing, basic hygiene products and case management services for women and children. Sunrise Café, a soup kitchen in Wooster Square, provides a free warm breakfast to all patrons, including men and women leaving nearby overnight shelters. These two organizations operate throughout the year, providing valuable services with minimal barriers for all city residents.

This is a crucial time for many New Haveners hoping to access these services. The emerging winter will begin to place an increasing demand on the city’s already over-taxed emergency housing resources.

I want you to know that participating in the Fast does not have to be difficult. Should you need to eat at a dining hall on Friday, your guest swipes will continue to work. YHHAP will provide breakfast and lunch in Bass Cafe, while restaurants like Sherkaan will provide discounts for participating students.

Friday is the day before The Game and marks the start of Thanksgiving Break; for those of you heading out of town or planning to eat out anyway, I strongly encourage you to participate so that your unused swipes can be repurposed for a better use. As it so happens, Friday caps off National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; it is hard to imagine a better way to take action than to support Martha’s Place and Sunrise Café, who fight housing and food
insecurity year-round.

YHHAP’s Fast fundraiser continues to provide an accessible option for all Yale students to get involved in campus efforts twice a year to address housing and food insecurity in the greater New Haven area. But it’s worth noting that over 350 Yale students commit their time and energy every single week to tackling these issues as regular YHHAP volunteers. Students in YHHAP have directly engaged with community service in New Haven for more than 45 years. From Yale Community Kitchen, a student-run weekend soup kitchen on Temple Street, to No Closed Doors, which provides job application services to those seeking employment, there is no shortage of opportunities to become involved in addressing hunger and homelessness issues in New Haven beyond the Fast.

Today, as you swipe to grab breakfast, or tonight, as you swipe into your entryway and enjoy the warmth of your rooms, I encourage you to think about how your swipes can ensure every New Haven resident can do the same. When all of us choose to donate, we magnify the impact of everyone’s contribution and guarantee it supports even more of our neighbors in need. So take a moment, sign up and swipe it forward for New Haven.

NISHANTH KRISHNAN is a junior in Timothy Dwight College and the co-director of the Yale Hunger and Homelessnes Action Project. Contact him at nishanth.krishnan@yale.edu .