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'Free Food at RU' operates to feed hungry, cash-strapped college students


Ramen noodles are a staple in the diet of college students, who are constantly trying to eat on a budget.

But a new website is working to connect hungry students with events offering free meals.

The Free Food @ RU website lists free food scattered around campus. All over Rutgers are events offering free food, and Free Food @ RU aggregates these onto a webpage.

The website lists the date, time, location and food type offered as well as a description of the event.

Harshil Shah, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and the creator of Free Food @ RU, hopes the website gets students exploring campus. He created the website to benefit both event organizers and students. Shah hopes his app draws more attention to events while connecting students with free food.

Behind the website’s simplistic layout is code that helps it locate events offering food. The website gathers Rutgers pages and then posts that data onto a single web page. It searches for keywords such as breakfast, snack, soup and meal.

“Every day there are exciting things happening around campus,” Shah said. “(The app) connects students to that.”

Shah said he created the app as a fun side project outside of class. If the website becomes more popular, he hopes to develop the website into a mobile app.

Rob Neal, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, was a contributor to the project.

The app is only one of Shah’s creations. Some of his other apps include a Rasberry Pi microcomputer pianobar, a blackjack game, a schedule of classes and a Rutgers database of classes. Shah also creates online tutorials for electronic devices.

The app could introduce students to all sorts of events, such as the MidKnight Breakfast by Rutgers Hillel.

As a way to de-stress before finals, Rutgers Hillel, a Jewish campus organization, is offering free breakfast at midnight. The organization will be providing a host of breakfast foods as well as ice cream and chocolate at the Hillel building.

“We have food at all of our events,” said a representative from the Off-Campus Student Association. “People come for the food, but stay because they learn about how the Off-Campus Student Association improves their on campus experience”

The group hosted a breakfast this Sunday and offered free food to incentivize attendance.

A large school like Rutgers always has events going on but they can be easy to miss, Shah said. Free Food @ RU is updated daily.

"I made this website because I wanted to provide a service for Rutgers students looking for free events with free food," Shah said. "I realized that it would be a great opportunity to learn outside of class and also build something cool that helps other Rutgers students."

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