By Neha Chollangi
For one year, students have used Ryerson’s Free Food Locator to eat food and save money on campus. Co-founder Kunal Variawa made the Facebook group on a particularly hungry Feb. 1 in 2016. It now has over 2,300 members.
“I feel that there was free food being given somewhere on campus almost every day, but not many people knew about it. There was no central page addressing it,” said Variawa. That’s why he started the group.
The Free Food Locator Facebook group is open to all Ryerson students. It currently has over 2,300 members. It’s used several times a day by students as well as clubs that post pictures of free food along with the times and locations of giveaways on campus.
Posts vary anywhere from popcorn at the SLC to a full self-serve dinner at Pitman.
Variawa calls it “a student-founded, student-driven and student-helping-student Facebook page.”
In his fourth year of criminology, Variawa is a commuter from Etobicoke who finds it expensive to buy food downtown on a regular basis. Making time to pack a lunch is often inconvenient for commuters, he said. The group can be used to help students save money and lighten their student debt, which adds up with regular food purchases.
“Grabbing a lunch, a light snack, or just something on-the-go should not be a reason for further strain on one’s finances,” said Variawa.
In Variawa’s opinion, the love and necessity for free food bind students at Ryerson together.
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Shuo Yu, who works for Ryerson International Student Support, said the Free Food Locator group is a great place to promote that organization’s activities.
“It’s also very diverse, so ethnic student associations will post their events to promote their heritage and food,” said Yu.
Ryerson associations including the Filipino Canadian Association and African Students’ Association post in the group when they give away free food.
Variawa is looking for eight admins, one from each faculty, to help him continue the Free Food Locator when he graduates in the spring.