Students from New York University and the University of Georgia are posting TikToks of sad meals their schools are supplying as they're quarantining before classes officially start.
NYU students say the school has even forgotten to deliver them food, or will deliver three meals all at once. Tuition and room and board at the Manhattan university starts at $74,000 a year.
Over the last 24 hours, more and more videos are being shared on TikTok by undergrads documenting the disappointing, meager food situation on campus.
NYU spokesperson John Beckman told BuzzFeed News the school had "let down" their students and is implementing a few changes to "get it right."
The school also blamed a third-party food vendor. "It is vital to get it right, and we are disappointed in Chartwells's management of the quarantine meals process," Beckman said in an email statement. BuzzFeed News reached out to Chartwells.
In one TikTok shared by user @zeinab.ym, she claimed NYU did not deliver her first meal of the day until about 12:30 p.m.; in another by user @nautica.n, she claimed NYU didn't provide any food until 6 p.m., when they dropped off three meals. One of the meals was cereal with no milk, and another a plastic container of some sort of watermelon salad.
On Wednesday, incoming NYU first-year student Tara Shear shared on TikTok that she received a granola bar, a cookie, and a single lemon for dinner. She told BuzzFeed News she's been quarantining for a few days on campus and the food she and others have received has "barely been sufficient."
Her dinners have also been arriving hours late.
"I've been having granola bars for meals and the occasional fruit juice cup," said Shear. "Many of us are having meals skipped or delivered super late. It's not physically healthy to finally eat close to 10–11 p.m., but we spend so many hours waiting for this little box of snacks."
Shear told BuzzFeed News the school also sent out a form asking for students' dietary restrictions, but they have not been followed closely.
"I know some vegan students who have gotten steak salads," she said. She, on the other hand, is not vegan but has been receiving several food boxes marked "vegan."
Shear said some students are now ordering their own food or getting Instacart deliveries — again, tuition, room, and board starts at $74,000 a year. She's been considering ordering food on her own through any of the popular delivery apps, but she's worried about cost.
"I know students who are spending $20-plus for one simple meal to be delivered when NYU told us we would receive three meals a day free of charge," she said. (According to Shear, students were offered free meals by the school between the time that they arrive on campus and quarantine before starting the school year. Once the school semester starts, they're required to buy a meal plan, which costs about $2,600 a semester.)
Meanwhile, at the University of Georgia, students say they're paying the full semester's meal plan and going to cafeterias for their food. But according to student TikTokers, portion sizes are noticeably smaller and the food quality has declined.
Will O'Bannon, a sophomore at UGA this year, told BuzzFeed News they've been reduced to only a few options in their cafeterias, and the school has completely removed kosher options.
"The process is somewhat efficient," he said of students having to line up socially distanced to pick up their meals. "However the portion sizes are smaller and they've removed a lot of options. Sometimes I get more food for myself depending on if I want to stand in that long line later in the day and face the potential risk of being exposed to COVID."
O'Bannon added that when the school year starts, he'll be taking one in-person class a week while doing remote learning from his dorm room the rest of the time.
In another TikTok shared by user @.............lolz, she showed "what the $2000 meal plan at uga looks like bc of covid." In one clip, she flipped open a soggy burger to reveal just onions and cheese; in another, she zooms in on a small salad of a few greens and one slice of tomato packaged in a ziplock bag.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to her and the other students mentioned in this story.
A spokesperson for the University of Georgia forwarded to BuzzFeed News an internal email the school sent the student body on Wednesday. In that email, it said they "are listening to [students'] feedback" and have implemented some changes.
First, it's offered students additional points to use in the cafeteria "to explore and have additional dining options." The school has also extended hours of operation of its dining halls, and have opened up more areas "to provide general student seating" to eat meals.
NYU responded similarly, saying it and Chartwells "are correcting the situation promptly." It is adding more staff members to aid delivery, management, and responses to errors or complaints.
Additionally, Beckman said the school has "authorized staff in the residence halls to order meals through regular delivery services or to provide money to students to order delivery themselves if the food that shows up isn't good enough."
"We recognize that when people are required to quarantine in their rooms by themselves, few things in the day are more important than looking forward to something nice to eat, so this is a particularly regrettable error, and a let-down for our students," he said.
"I really want NYU to figure this out, honestly," said Shear.