This Organization is Working to End College Hunger

by Gabrielle Khalife
Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Share Meals

What they do: Share Meals is a digital platform introduced at New York University in 2013 to help ensure that all college students are food secure. With an estimated 42 percent of college students food insecure and $5.8 million in unused meal plans every semester, the platform was created to help students find a meal.

How they do it: Share Meals uses an app to connect students who have extra food, whether in the form of unused meal swipes or leftovers from catered events, with students who are food insecure. The app provides three main options enabling students to 1) find free food by clicking the free food map to see in real time nearby locations that are offering extra food, 2) share a meal swipe with other students and 3) post information about a free food event. By connecting students with new friends over a meal, the platform also strengthens communities by reducing social isolation and loneliness. The organization hosts hands-on workshops, classes, and events, such as cooking classes and meal-packing events to inspire increased activism. Additionally, they are currently exploring a number of ways to expand existing university food pantries and to enable universities without food pantries to start new ones.

Mission: To end college hunger

Latest project/campaign:

  1. The Hunger Action series, a two-week-long series of curated events celebrating community members’ efforts to end college hunger. Three universities have already participated in the series including New York University, Columbia University, and Rutgers University, and together they raised more than 10,000 meals.
  2. The Share Meals Smart Pantry, an entry level, low-cost, low-maintenance solution for universities wanting to start their own food pantry or expand an existing one.
  3. The Share Meals Trailblazers, a fellowship program to teach undergraduates how to advocate and communicate for social change. Trailblazers is an accepted Clinton Global Initiative commitment.

Major Funding: W.R. Berkley Center Innovation Labs

Profit/nonprofit: Benefit corporation

Annual Budget: Bootstrapped

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: In 2018, the app had 3,000 users.

FACT SHEET:

Location:

Brooklyn, New York

Core Programs:

-Share Meals App

-Community Cooking Classes

-Meal Packing Events

-Share Meals Smart Pantry

-Share Meals Trailblazers Fellowship

Number of staff: 1

Number of volunteers: 10

Areas served: New York, New Jersey

Year Started: 2013

Director: Jonathan Chin

Contact Information: [email protected]

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