HOW Feature

Designing Change: Swipe Out Starvation

by HOW Magazine on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 in Features

Swipe Out Starvation aims to appeal to students with leftover meal credits at the end of a dining cycle to donate those credits in lieu of splurging on unnecessary food. Each card is equivalent to 25 cents.

Giving people options to do good things is the simple yet effective premise behind Swipe out Starvation.

University dining hall programs implement meal plans as a way to budget food costs. It’s easy and convenient, but students can find themselves splurging on unnecessary food items in order to spend their food allowance before they lose it as a cycle comes to a close. Swipe Out Starvation, a student-initiated program, presents university-goers with another option: to allocate unused credits to hunger-relief efforts by simply purchasing a small card.

In 2011, Purdue rolled out a weeklong pilot program of the concept. The results were impressive. Within five days, 5,000 cards were purchased, and $1,300 was donated to a local food bank and Heifer International, an organization that provides livestock to families in developing countries. Purdue will repeat the campaign six more times throughout the school year. “The card is valued at 25 cents. All of it goes toward our beneficiaries. Our funds for operations costs come from university grants and a local campus church,” says GiJey Gilliam, Purdue student and president of the project.

The program started with Purdue Christian Campus House, a ministry program that mobilizes students to employ their passions to create change with bold ideas. The ministry then supports and develops the best idea—like Swipe Out Starvation. Garret Curry, the project’s art director, worked in-house for the ministry program and designed all of the visual and marketing collateral, including a series of posters and cards, as well as promotional displays and the website.

He points out that the current generation of students is exponentially socially conscientious. “One thing that gives the product perceived value to them is whether it makes a difference in the world. Spending leftover credits on extra food they may not need is normally their only option; otherwise, their credits are lost. A more significantly mindful option is an easy decision for them,” Curry says.

The success of this project, among others, led to the creation of a new agency called GreyMob. “This company would be considered a business or idea accelerator, specifically for nonprofits,” Curry says.

The design of the five different cards displayed for students to “purchase” does not solely reflect Purdue, which is quite intentional. “Purdue’s Dining Services simply partnered with us. We wish for other universities to partner with us, but we didn’t want to alienate ourselves by branding ourselves to one establishment,” Curry says.

The cards’ designs give humanity center stage by highlighting vivid, uplifting images rather than ones depicting destitution. “Our biggest challenge was to not emotionally manipulate the target audience by coming off as a shaming sucker-punch,” Curry says. “The campaign doesn’t seek to point out the worst in us and paint a dark and hopeless perception of the world. Instead, it seeks to point out the best in us.”

Article by: Jessica KuhnHOW’s senior & online editor

Editor’s note: This column, “Designing Change,” originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of HOW magazine, a bi-monthly publication dedicated to serving the graphic and web design community. Visit for a daily taste of the magazine.

Originally published on HOW Magazine