By Camryn Pak
The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and Stanford Food Recovery (SFR) have partnered to support ShareMeals, an app that aims to eliminate food insecurity at Stanford. This project was launched at the end of January.
ShareMeals — which began at New York University (NYU) and has spread to universities across the country — serves as a mobile platform for students to advertise their events and to find free leftover food on campus.
Although an email chain currently exists for students to share their on-campus food finds, the goal of ShareMeals is to streamline the process and make free food more accessible for users.
“We really love the app because it has GPS and map location settings,” said ASSU Co-Director of Affordability Grace Achepohl ’20. “If you click into the app, you can see the different locations where there is free food and see exactly what type of food is offered, the amount of servings there will be and when it is offered.”
ShareMeals allows members of the University community both to find food to eat and also to post their own events to share with other users of the app.
Using ShareMeals will also benefit sustainability efforts on campus, said SFR Co-President Kana Cummings ’22.
SFR is a student organization that works to minimize food waste on campus and help alleviate food insecurity in the Bay Area — two goals that align with ShareMeals’ mission.
“SFR has actively been using the app in addition to encouraging other students to download it,” Cummings said. “ShareMeals allows our group, and anyone else with leftovers, to post a description and photos of the food and its location so that interested individuals can come pick it up.”
Talks for the project first began last fall after Jonathan Chin, who created ShareMeals seven years ago while teaching at NYU, reached out to Achepohl, who wrote an article for The Stanford Review about food insecurity on campus. Although Achepohl’s original goal was to alleviate food insecurity through meal swipe sharing, she said ShareMeals proved to be a better alternative, especially because the app will not affect Stanford’s Residential and Dining Enterprises.
After coordinating with Chin, Achepohl reached out to SFR, and the partnership between the two Stanford groups began. The initiative was officially launched at the end of January, and according to Chin, there are already 250 ShareMeals users on campus, part of the 8,000 users at 400 universities across the country.
“The level of engagement I’ve seen at Stanford in the past couple of weeks has been tremendous,” Chin said. “It took us quite a bit of time to get the first 400 users at NYU, but you guys have been able to reach 250 in the first two weeks.”
Achepohl and Cummings have high hopes for Stanford’s ShareMeals branch to expand in the future.
“Ideally, ShareMeals will be used by everyone on campus to facilitate both giving and receiving food,” Cummings said.