How one college’s students are hacking Tinder to get free food

Where most college students see an easy hook-up, one enterprising American University junior sees something else: The opportunity to score a free meal.

That’s the idea, at least, behind Swipe for Swipes, a blog for AU students that popped up on Tumblr Monday. It’s a catchy hashtag with an even catchier premise: If you have extra meal swipes in AU’s dining halls, add the line “I have spare meal swipes” to your bio on Tinder, the mobile dating app. If you’re short on dining credits, add the line “I need a meal swipe.” Then set your search distance to one mile and wait for meals (or meal dates!) to roll in.

“Now everything in your life is better,” writes Swipe for Swipes’ creator, Julia Reinstein. “That’s symbiosis, folks.”

That is indeed symbiosis, and also a rather brilliant idea — but for better or worse, it doesn’t seem to have caught on. Molly Greenberg, a writer for In the Capital and an AU alum, found the process “not only tedious but also quite time-consuming.” I tried it out myself, with similar results: After swiping through at least three dozen Tinder profiles, I encountered not a single meal offer or request. (Admittedly, there are 10,000 students at AU, and my search dragged in a lot of Georgetown, George Washington and Howard students, too — so who knows how it might work for someone physically on campus.)