Recently quarantined out-of-state students have been calling out NYU on social media for the poor quality of their meals — if they even receive meals at all — as reported by NYU Local and national media outlets.
Against a backdrop of universities opening and closing, the university has put in place various measures to fight against the spread of COVID-19, including testing facilities and mandatory 14-day quarantine in Residential Housing for students outside the Tri-state area. The quality of life during these 14 days, however, falls short of the policies laid out by NYU.
Liberal Studies sophomore Grace Wanebo — a quarantined student — has a gluten allergy and emailed NYU regarding her diet prior to arriving on campus. When Wanebo arrived, she was met with entirely low-quality gluten meals.
“At first I thought the situation was super funny so I decided to make a TikTok,” Wanebo said. “I wasn’t even mad.”
After her TikTok went viral, amassing over 300,000 views, the comments on the video made her question her attitude.
“I started getting comments from people who were outraged for me, questioning how I can be spending so much on tuition and be given food that is not only poor, but also bad for me,” Wanebo said.
Other students also shared their own issues with NYU’s food via TikTok, including Tisch first-year Alexandra Mettler, a vegan student.
“It was just so odd,” Mettler said. “I had to wait till 10 p.m. for dinner and when it got there all of the food was just not vegan.”
Some students, like Steinhardt first-year Annette Yang, claim to have never received food.
“I never received lunch or dinner, so I genuinely thought they forgot about me,” Yang said. “I put up a sign on my door saying I never ate. At 11 p.m. I received expired food which I chose not to eat.”
The next day, Yang put a sign on her door writing, “Please do not forget about me!” in an attempt to not have the same experience. She did not receive food that day either.
“I basically went two days without food,” Yang said. “I am a freshman and I don’t want to bash NYU, but this was seriously traumatizing.”
Yang also attempted to email NYU housing regarding food, but had not received a reply by the time of publication.
After the situation garnered attention on social media, students say NYU started to take action.
“I saw a lot of people online saying that after their videos went viral, a couple hours later NYU would send over more food to those dorms,” Mettler said. “It seems like they act when they are under the spotlight.”
In a statement published on Thursday by NYU Spokesperson John Beckman regarding the issues with the meal delivery system, Beckman placed blame on the food supplier Chartwells.
“We are aware of the students’ complaints, which are valid.” the statement read. “…it is vital to get it right, and we are disappointed in Chartwells’s management of the quarantine meals process. We and Chartwells are correcting the situation promptly.”
Tisch first-year Madison Veldman took concern with the university’s response.
“It is great that they acknowledge everything but I think NYU isn’t taking full responsibility,” Veldman said. “Many students face food insecurity. They should be number-one priority.”
The statement also highlighted other steps being taken to rectify the situation including an increase in staff as well as providing $100 delivery stipends for students who believe the quality of food is inedible.
“A $100 stipend is not enough,” Veldman said. “That is — at most — three meals if you ration properly. I am lucky enough to afford outside expenses, but many are simply not able.”
As the Twitter threads and TikToks garner even more attention, so does the exposure to food insecurity at NYU. Undergraduate students Liv Sher and Noa Sharon created a Mutual Aid Fund document whereby students can donate to those in quarantine. Some quarantined students including Mettler recount receiving donations by strangers via Venmo due to attention gained from TikToks.
“People on TikTok felt bad and sent me some money on Venmo, which I used to order food for myself and my suitemate,” Mettler told BuzzFeed News. “I am redistributing all the extra funds I receive to other students who are struggling.”
Student Government Assembly and Senators at-Large for Students Experiencing Food Insecurity also released a statement regarding the situation which called upon NYU to reevaluate and enact new quarantine food protocols.
“Food insecurity at NYU is not new and continues to affect an unacceptable number of students in our community,” the statement read. “In a pivotal moment like this, it is especially disturbing to see the university fail at the essential duty of feeding their students.”
Despite the first few days of quarantine, many students remain optimistic.
“In the end, just like the rest of the country, I think COVID just highlights the issues that NYU has always had,” Wanebo said. “I’m just hoping this situation will make them question the broken systems they have been working on [top of] for a while.”
If you have or continue to experience any issues during your quarantine at an NYU Residence Hall regarding the meals you are entitled to, email [email protected] to file your grievance and receive assistance.
Email Mina Mohammadi at [email protected]