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New app helping students find free meals on campus

A new mobile app at Cal State Fullerton is helping students in need to find free meals on campus by sending push notifications directly to students when leftover food becomes available.

According to a university release, the app is called Titan Bites and was developed by the university’s Auxiliary Services, Campus Dining Services, Student Life and Leadership, Associated Students, Inc. and Division of Information Technology. The app is part of Cal State Fullerton’s ongoing efforts to address food and housing insecurity on campus following a recent university report that found some 21-24% of students across Fullerton’s 23 campuses lack regular access to meals.

To sign up for the app, students simply log in to their campus portal, click on the Student Account Settings section. From there, students click an “Edit” button next to a “Join Titan Bites Free Food Program on Campus” option, and can designate whether they would like to receive push notifications via email or SMS.

The Titan Bites free food program will send notifications to users to be an “after-event guest,” for when a catered event on campus is over and extra food is available. By opting-in, users will receive push notifications informing them where to go on campus for free food where it will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It is kind of an honor system. We want students in need of food to feel comfortable using this resource, without making them feel different,” says Crystal Newman, marketing manager for Campus Dining Services. “We want students to know they can come, get food, walk out and it’s not a big deal.”

Four campus organizations — OC Choice Catering, Associated Students, Inc., Student Life and Leadership, and Fullerton’s Gastronome campus dining facility — currently have approval to push real-time notifications through the Titan Bites app.

“Once you push the notifications, you can’t get it back, so we want to make sure it’s in the hands of a key group of people who know how to use it properly,” says Newman. “These groups cover a wide range of activities on campus, from student events to catered events.”

Fullerton has made numerous resources available for students in need of a meal. Students in need can also receive free meals at the Gastronome dining facility or other campus dining locations by contacting the univeristy’s Dean of Students Office, while some meals at Gastronome have previously been donated by students and matched by food-service vendor Aramark via a meal-donation campaign held last fall. Cal State Fullerton’s Campus Dining Services has also contributed $5,000 in student meals.

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