One of the hardest tasks as a new student at NYU was becoming comfortable eating alone. Even though I slowly got to know many people in the community, there were always times when I’d walk into a crowded Upstein between classes or past the long lines in Palladium hoping to grab food before a club meeting and recognize nobody. As I’ve grown accustomed to college, the thought of eating alone no longer seems as scary — but in those first few weeks the idea terrified me. Unfortunately, these feelings are fairly widespread for freshmen, so I chose to explore a potential solution: EatUp.
These are the problems that the app, developed by Suhashini Sarkar, has attempted to address since its launch in October 2016. Described as a social app, EatUp matches university students to other peers who hope either to avoid eating alone or use meals as an opportunity to meet new people at campus dining halls.
I downloaded the app, eager to embark on my first blind meal date with a fellow NYU student. The app immediately prompted me to sign in through Facebook and seamlessly created an account.
The first step is to create a profile, listing your school within NYU, graduating year and major. This allows others to get a sense of who you are and whether you would be a good match for a blind meal. Having completed my profile, I went to the locations page and checked out possible matches in the dining halls.
To find a potential blind lunch, EatUp provides every location NYU offers for dining from Peet’s Coffee and Tea in Kimmel to the Third North Courtyard Cafe. To find other EatUp users in the dining hall of your choice, it asks you to check in. In my case, I checked into Lipton. After five minutes nobody else had checked in. Out of curiosity, I checked into Downstein, Kimmel and then Third North, to no avail. After ten minutes of reloading, I relented to bringing food up to my room to watch “Shameless,” while considering how to proceed. Later that night I checked in at Palladium, where the line extended to the drink machines. There were still no users on the app.
Since I couldn’t find anyone, I resorted to asking for other students’ experiences with the app, with little success. Responses ranged from complete confusion to a few cases where users downloaded it only to be disappointed, as well. So while the app’s functions work to perfection and certainly offer the potential for diners to meet others over a meal, it seems to have failed so far in drawing enough users. That being said, the developer stated on AppAdvice that the development team will soon add a function to request meal swipes, so for upperclassmen out there hoping to find swipe-loaded freshmen, the app might soon offer a new opportunity.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 20 print edition. Email Nathaniel Mahlum at [email protected]