A college student has shared his trick to get free meals at restaurants.
In a 2020 TikTok video, college student Noah Wille revealed that he created a Google Spreadsheet to keep track of all the restaurants he signed up for with his email, each account having a different birthday each day of the month so that he could guarantee that he would receive at least one free meal each day. The video has since gone viral again.
“Okay, life hack that is also kind of terrible,” Wille shared in his viral TikTok video. “Once upon a time, I made this fake email account that I still use. I get free food or dessert from a restaurant every single day.”
“I made this fake email and I found a list of a bunch of restaurants that offered birthday freebies,” he continued. “So I put them all in here, and I put my birthday on each website for a different day of the year. So I have 365 days of free food.”
“Tomorrow I have a free meal from Benihana’s,” he added. “I really hope I’m not the only person who is crazy enough to do this.”
Although he did note that he understood how unethical the hack was, and that he was still wrapping his head around the fact that he’s “really that person” who would do anything for a free meal, he told viewers that it was “well worth it”.
Since posting the video on TikTok, it has received over 200,000 likes and nearly a million views, with many noting that Wille’s strategy was brilliant. Others noted that all the work he put into making his extensive spreadsheet was ultimately for a good reason that many struggling through the ongoing cost-of-living crisis can relate to.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Wille explained: “A few years ago when I was in high school, I had started my own nonprofit organisation to help the homeless community in central Iowa.”
“We would fundraise tons of money and put together care packages to help them out for a few weeks,” he continued. “About two months ago, I moved out to LA without the support of my parents and ended up finding myself in a similar spot to many of the people I usually helped out with — lacking food security.”
Because he needed to find a way to feed himself “without plunging [himself] into even more debt,” he got creative.
“So one day, I woke up and the birthday scheme popped into my head,” he told the outlet. “In total, I would say the spreadsheet took me about three weeks to make and sign up for everything, but in the end, the effort has been totally worth it.”
Food insecurity has become alarmingly common among college students, with one in three students reportedly experiencing food insecurity nationwide, according to the National Center of Safe Supportive Learning Environments.