Share Meals Is More Than Just An App

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A close-up picture of many boxes of food, including Hamburger Helper, oats, and canned vegetables.
A close-up picture of many boxes of food, including Hamburger Helper, oats, and canned vegetables.

Share Meals is working with the Columbia food pantries to make sure they’re fully stocked.

At the end of last semester, Bwog reviewed the Share Meals app, just one part of Share Meals’ effort to end hunger on college campuses. Senior Staffer Abby Rubel talked to Share Meals founder Jonathan Chin about the app, the organization’s other initiatives, and what it’s doing to have a bigger presence at Columbia.

Our initial impression of the Share Meals app was not particularly positive. It wasn’t well publicized and there wasn’t much activity. Chin defended the app, saying that Share Meals was reluctant to publicize the app until Barnard signed onto it. After Barnard signed on in early February, however, there still wasn’t much publicity surrounding the app. Chin admitted that there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in activity. As of press time, there were only 100 downloads on the Google Play store, just a few more than when we reviewed it.

Chin explained, however, that Share Meals is only just starting to get administrative support from Columbia. It’s much more popular at NYU, where it started, because “we’ve been able to work up relationships and we have far more educational support. We’re just getting that at Columbia,” Chin said.

Share Meals has also been expanding their efforts beyond the app. The organization is partnering with food pantries at NYU, Columbia, Rutgers, and Queensborough Community College to ensure that they are fully stocked. And at NYU, they’ve started a pilot program of community cooking classes. “We’ve been hosting a series of community cooking classes,” Chin said, “So we show people how to cook for themselves, how to shop, how to keep up with their nutrition.” These classes were recently adopted as a full program by NYU, and Chin is looking to bring those uptown as well.

Right now, their main focus is the “Hunger Action Series,” which will take place at NYU, Columbia, Rutgers, and Queensborough Community College. “It’s running concurrently at NYU, Columbia University, and Rutgers, and one of the sort of crowning events for that series is a community meal packing event,” he said. The series will start on March 24 and end on April 8, and the Columbia events will be organized and promoted by FLIP.

With the Hunger Action Series coming up in less than a month, however, FLIP has not posted anything on their Facebook page about Hunger Action Series events, nor has the event been publicized in other ways. It remains to be seen if Share Meals can be as effective at Columbia as it’s been at NYU, but that can’t happen unless they strongly push to increase campus awareness.

food pantry via Bwog Archives

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