By Donna Nadeem
In recent years, attention to food security issues has been growing, with more consideration being given to access to adequate food, the high cost of food in communities, the recent rise in food prices and concerns about the safety and sustainability of the food supply.
Against the backdrop of this movement, Frank Chen, a fourth-year health sciences student at McMaster, decided to start Nolunchmoney, an online initiative that aims to increase student awareness about free food opportunities going on around campus. Nolunchmoney is an online initiative focused mostly on food recovery and sustainable practices at McMaster.
For over three years, Nolunchmoney has been running programs through its blog and Facebook page. The team uses their social media to constantly keep students updated on free food events.
They recently implemented a texting service so that students who are not as active on social media also have a way to be notified about all the events.
“Our platform is basically all marketing based on teaching students about food opportunities on campus and then we primarily use social media as a tool to show students about these events,” said Sai R. Garlapatia, co-president of Nolunchmoney.
Nolunchmoney markets McMaster Students Union club events so that even more students can be informed of these opportunities and further food wastage is prevented.
“We are connecting services that are already there to the people. We are like the middleman,” said Garlapati.
Last year, the team started planning a new program called the Second Course and solidified a collaboration with Paradise Catering, which agreed to donate leftover baked goods that would otherwise be thrown out.
Nolunchmoney’s future goals include expanding their program by finding a designated space for the initiative on campus that is increasingly accessible to students.
“We are trying to expand in the way that, by securing funding, we can improve our marketing techniques and have a designated space on campus to always host our events with the food,” Garlapati explained.
In August, Nolunchmoney announced its partnership with SUSTAIN 3S03, a third-year undergraduate course open to students across all faculties at McMaster. Sixty per cent of the course grade comes from an experiential project that students to work on in groups.
The partnership between Nolunchmoney and SUSTAIN 3S03 was established in an effort to work to combat two campus-related sustainability challenges. The first challenge, called “Enhancing the Process to Recover and Share Free Food on Campus,” hopes to make free food more accessible on campus. The second, called “Enhancing Student Participation on Campus,” seeks to de-stigmatize free food initiatives and increase Nolunchmoney’s brand awareness and reach at the university.
“Another executive member and I are taking the SUSTAIN 3S03 course and one of our projects is improving the Nolunchmoney service, so it is an academic component and now students can help Nolunchmoney grow and get academic credit for it,” said Garlapati.
Students can also get involved by becoming a scout for Nolunchmoney, a job that entails seeking out free food events on campus and getting these posted about on the online initiative’s Facebook page.