ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) — Although it’s common for college students to worry about money, a study shows that many University of New Mexico undergraduates also worry about where they come from. of their next meal. A new app helps them and reduces food waste on campus.
A UNM study found that nearly 7,000 undergraduate students at the school face food insecurity. But UNM senior Biraj Silwal knows from personal experience that there’s also a lot of food on campus that just gets thrown away. “I’ve been to a lot of campus events and have personally seen that there’s always food, like extra food,” Silwal said.
Hoping to solve two problems at once, Silwal, who studies computer science and economics, volunteered and spent much of his winter vacation in a coding marathon, designing the Lobo Eats app. “For students, they don’t need to register, log in, anything. They just have to go to the food tab and see the food available,” Silwal said.
The free app allows anyone with a UNM email address to post information about extra food they have from events or meetings that students in need can pick up. “They will receive real-time notification of when, where and what type of food is available on campus,” Silwal said.
When there is no additional food available, there are also links to other resources, such as the on-campus food pantry. The app is a few months away from launch, but when it does, Silwal hopes it will let students struggling with food insecurity know they’re not alone.
“Let’s say that because of this app, if many students go to events for food and there is food available, they see that they are not the only ones who need food when they are on campus,” Silwal said. “Our goal is to remove that stigma and embarrassment and make it the norm.”
The application should be officially operational by the end of this semester. Then Silwal will release his code to other colleges so they can build their own versions of the app.