One Bobcat fed the homeless in Austin by using left-over meal swipes. After posting the charitable deed to Twitter, the student received mixed reactions.
At Texas State, students can purchase meal plans which consist of a set amount of swipes redeemable at several locations throughout campus. The meal swipes are used like money to purchase specified menu items.
Katelyn Smith, interior design sophomore, had an excess of meal swipes by the end of the spring semester, which would have been void if not used—a typical issue for many students. With the help of her boyfriend, Smith distributed meals from the Panda Express store in the Jones dining center to Austin’s homeless.
“It was the end of the year, and I still had 20 or 30-something swipes left,” Smith said. “I was asking my boyfriend what can we do with these because I feel bad letting them go to waste.”
Her boyfriend responded with the idea to give away the leftover food credits.
Jace Llamas, accounting junior at UT-Austin, said being a fraternity member inspired the idea to give the food to homeless people.
“I’m always just trying to think of different ways to give back and do different types of philanthropy things with my brothers,” Llamas said.
Smith encountered some challenges when she tried to use all her swipes at Panda Express. The manager would only allow the use of two swipes at once, so Smith went through the line multiple times until she used every last meal ticket.
After Smith explained what she was doing to the cashier, the worker went to the back room and found a large box full of fortune cookies for Smith to use to carry the meals to her car. The cashier left about 100 fortune cookies in the box for Smith to give out.
Smith and Llamas drove around Austin and handed the meals out and snapped a few shots of their deed. The couple said they witnessed a man searching through a dumpster when they pulled up their vehicle.
“We noticed him, and he had just stood up when we pulled over,” Llamas said. “He had come up with nothing and his face looked a little bit disappointed you could tell. We rolled down the window and said, ‘Excuse me sir, do you want some food?’ You could see his face light up. It was touching to me.”
Smith posted about the experience in a tweet with pictures. However, some users criticized them, claiming the couple was looking for attention.
Madison Little, West High School junior, said she thought the couple did a good thing. However, she did not believe the pair should have shown anyone’s face on their Twitter post.
“I was in a place where I did not have a home because of a fire, and I know I would be upset if someone from the Red Cross had taken a picture of me and posted it,” Little said. “I just don’t think it was appropriate.”
Smith and Llamas stand by their decision to post about their experience.
“We did it for the right intentions of spreading kindness and giving other people the idea, planting a seed in their mind to do something nice,” Llamas said.
The post was retweeted over 7 thousand times and has received over 30 thousand likes.