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/ May 17, 2013
NYU Meal Swipes Page Connects Hungry Students With Food

On May 3, an NYU Secrets post popped up that read, “Putting together all the money I have left in my wallet, my bank account and my school Id still doesn’t amount to $25. I need to live off that money for the next week or two […] I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I miss home.”

Among the 40 comments offering the poster aid, one was NYU Meal Swipes, a Facebook page that had started in March but began posting on May 4. Its comment urging students to “message me if you HAVE or NEED meal swipes” got 33 likes, and one comment: “finally.”

Since then, the page reportedly received 6,000 page views and 450+ requests for meal swipes, with the amount of meal swipes available often outnumbering the amount needed. The nascent page has a simple design, but it achieves its purpose: Those wishing to donate or receive food simply put an email address, phone number, and optimal meal times, then wait to be contacted. The page sends an automated email to two people whose schedules match, and provides “some suggestions to spark a conversation,” literally called “sparks.”

A sample of these:

Spark #8—Any tattoos?

Spark #6—What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten or tried?

Spark #16—What would your porno name be? (Take your childhood pet’s name and the name of the street you grew up on)

Because connecting with someone could be a flaky process, the website allows a user to apply for a new person every “0.25 days,” or 6 hours.

On May 7, another related NYU Secrets post came up, this one by a donor: “Secret #1881 practically changed my whole week. I found out about the NYU Meal Swipes page, got hooked up with a bunch of people to swipe in, and now instead of feeling wasteful and alone in dining halls and meal exchange cafeterias, I’m talking with people and will soon be gladly depleted of all these Flex meal swipes and dining dollars. I feel like I’m DOING something now, and it’s mostly because of this little-known/Liked page and this starving, impoverished student. I just hope s/he’s doing well now,” the post concluded.

The NYU Meal Swipes page manager ended the semester yesterday by congratulating graduates and alluding to “ambitious plans for next semester,” which he’ll be working out over the summer.

Posters have referenced NYU’s abject sense of community and claimed that the page (and NYU Secrets) had restored their faith in it. Others simply thanked “Kimmel fries” for bringing students together.

If you’re still in need of food or want to donate, click here.

[image via]