For years, University of Kansas students have used a Twitter account to find a slice of pizza here or a hot dog there.
Kristopher Velasco’s idea for getting the word out about free food turned into a staple for student-campus synergy. Students got the free food they wanted, and campus organizations got students to their events—all thanks to the succinctly named @FreeFoodAtKU account.
“When I was at KU, I spent nearly all of my time in the Union, and I saw so many events offering free food,” Velasco, c’13, said. “Over time, I became convinced that you could probably get free food every single day on campus if you just knew where to look. And as a poor college student, I knew that there were a lot of students out there like myself who would love to have this information.”
Soon after the first tweet, Velasco realized it wouldn’t have to be a one-man show.
“At first, I thought the account would primarily be successful because everyone loves free food,” he said. “I knew students would be interested in knowing about giveaways, whether it be pizza from the Dole Institute of Politics, hot dogs from the Alumni Association, or tea and cookies from SUA.
“What I didn’t expect was the support the account got from those giving out free food. As the account grew, organizations or departments holding events with free food would tweet at the account, hoping it would be shared and increase attendance to whatever they were promoting. That really helped the account take off because I became aware of so many more opportunities for free food. Even random students would tweet at the account letting us know about opportunities. It quickly felt like this was a tool everyone could benefit from, with students wanting food and organizers wanting students.”
As the man behind the curtain, Velasco faced a choice about revealing his identity.
“It was generally a secret. People close to me knew who was behind the account, but not a lot of people knew at first,” he said. “As the account became more prominent, though, and I would run into people I never met before talking about it, I would start to divulge. So over time it became well known who was behind it.”
Today, Velasco is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin working on a PhD in sociology. (No word yet on the quality of free food at UT.)
Free Food today
@FreeFoodAtKU is still active on Twitter today, tipping off students to campus events with giveaways. With food insecurity a growing issue, more options are now available for the campus community. The Campus Cupboard, a grocery store-style resource organized by the Center for Community Outreach, is open to anyone in need.
This year, the Student Alumni Network introduced the Free Food Finder. The calendar feed sends a push notification to students’ phones when there’s a bite to eat available. The Free Food Finder is available to all students at kustudentalumni.org and in the KU Alumni app.
Free Food Finder
Students, to find free food resources on campus, follow these steps:
Enable push notifications. We promise we won’t blast you with too many!
Register. Just tap “Register,”and enter your name and student ID number.
After you register, you’ll see a tile in the app called “Free Food,” which features a calendar that includes upcoming opportunities to find free food!
If your campus event offers free food and you want to include it on the app’s Free Food Finder, fill out our submission form. Events are added to the Student Alumni Network’s Free Food Finder calendar and promoted to KU Student Alumni Network members through email and push notifications. Only campus entities and KU Alumni partners are allowed to submit events for promotion. The KU Alumni Association reserves the right to decline submissions that don’t fit or align with our mission.
You might have heard there’s a pretty big basketball game coming up this weekend. The annual Big 12/SEC Challenge happens on Saturday, which means ten basketball games in one day featuring Big 12 teams facing opponents from the Southeastern Conference.
We challenged our friends at the University of Kentucky Alumni Association to a friendly competition leading up to the big #KUvsUK basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 26. We also wanted to get a jump start on our third annual Member APPreciation Month in February, which encourages members to download our app in order to gain access to an exclusive T-shirt.
Here’s the deal:
Both organizations have apps, and we both want more people to use them. The challenge kicks off Jan. 23, and we’re going to tally up all NEW downloads of our respective apps at the end of the day Jan. 27. Whichever group has the most new downloads wins the challenge.
What’s at stake?
Bragging rights, of course! Seriously, though, there’s Kentucky bourbon and Kansas steaks—Superior Steaks, at that— on the line.
How you can help:
Download the app! And if you’ve already downloaded it, encourage your friends and family to do the same by Jan. 27. The app isn’t limited to KU students and alumni; anyone who loves KU can use it!
And, check back on Jan. 28 to see who wins the #KUvsUK challenge!
The KU Alumni Association released a new mobile app this week just for KU students. The app, highlighting KU traditions, is the Association’s second app, joining one dedicated to alumni that launched in May.
The KU Student Alumni Association Traditions app allows KU students to earn points for participating in KU traditions and getting involved in campus activities while at KU. Research shows that students who are engaged on campus are more successful and more likely to graduate on time. Engaged students are also more likely to stay connected to their alma mater after they graduate. The KU Traditions app was designed by the KU Alumni Association to foster engagement and campus involvement among KU students.
Built by MobileUp, the app was a collaborative effort created with input from students, alumni and multiple campus offices, including KU Endowment, the Office of First Year Experience, Student Affairs, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, Student Senate and KU Athletics. More than 50 activities listed in the app encourage KU students to master the following KU traditions:
• Wave the wheat
• Sway to the Alma Mater
• Master the fight song clap
• Fill the stadium
• Join a club
• Meet your professor
• Read the UDK on Wescoe Beach
• Hug a mascot
• Have a Wang burger at the Wheel
• Visit the KU Career Center
• Find a mentor
• Explain Rock Chalk to a non-Jayhawk
• Plus 44 more traditions
Students can complete KU traditions–by taking a photo or entering text–and join the Student Alumni Association (SAA) through the app.
The Association also announced earlier this summer that all fall 2016 freshmen would receive a four-year gift membership in SAA. The gift membership, provided in partnership with KU Endowment, is redeemable through the app and online. The initiative removes financial barriers that might have prevented some students from joining SAA, one of the largest student organizations on campus.
The change also supports university goals to increase retention and graduation rates by encouraging student involvement. The KU Traditions app, along with the gift membership, help position SAA among the strongest student alumni associations in the country.
Learn more about KU Alumni Association mobile apps.
Staying in touch with fellow Jayhawks is as simple as the swipe of a screen on your cell phone or tablet, thanks to a new app from the Alumni Association.
“We know that in addition to traditional forms of communication, digital media is changing the way alumni engage with each other and with KU,” says David Johnston, j’94, g’06, the Association’s vice president of marketing and digital media. “The app is another way for us to connect with alumni on their terms.”
The free app is available to all alumni, friends and fans of the University. Features for all users include options to renew or upgrade membership and receive notices of alumni events. Alumni Association members also have access to locked members-only benefits such as the Alumni Mentor Network, which currently includes 376 Jayhawks who have volunteered to assist fellow alumni and current KU students in their careers. “Members can search for a mentor in their field by name or location to find someone willing to offer advice,” Johnston explains.
Other members-only benefits include:
• access to register for and participate in monthly online career-networking events
• special discounts from local and national retailers
• Kansas Alumni magazine
• digital membership card
• social media feeds
To use the app, you should register your 10-digit alumni ID number to connect with your alumni profile. Alumni IDs are printed on the plastic mailing wrappers for Kansas Alumni magazine, and they are included at the bottom of every email sent from the Alumni Association. You also can call the Association at (800) 584-2957 to request your 10-digit alumni ID. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play, or visit kualumni.org/app for more information.