Raleigh couple with viral post about recipes now feeds hundreds of college students

Amber Rupinta Image
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
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The Sullivans try to host one meal a month and students need a .edu email to sign up.

Tom and Rachel Sullivan went viral in 2021 for a secret social media account Rachel discovered and posted about. The account @mealssheeats was created by Tom Sullivan as he documented recipes he was making for his wife as they were trying to have a baby.

"I have a hormone called PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome and it makes it difficult to get pregnant," Rachel said. "So, we kind of took a holistic approach because I was recommended this one birth control which wasn't an option for us. So Tom found ways to use food as medicine," she added.

The recipes not only worked for a successful pregnancy but, also gave the Sullivans a huge following on social media and national media attention.

The Rachel Ray show surprised them with money to keep cooking the special meals. A few months later, Rachel posted about cooking a home-cooked meal for a college student they knew and that post also went viral and started a new passion for the couple.

"The comment section was just tons of people saying like,' I wish I could be adopted or someone give me free food.'" Rachel explained.

"It grew the next one had like 15 and then 20 students," Tom said. "And, then we kind of said to ourselves, like, Okay, well, we can't just keep like, we need a way to be able to afford this. So we said as long as it's funded I'll cook.

The couple started a website, adoptacollegekid.com to manage the growing suppers at their home.

"Over 1200 students signed up," Tom said. "So, we opened a GoFundMe and it filled in like an hour. And I'm like, oh, okay, we're gonna, we're gonna keep doing this!"

The Sullivans try to host one meal a month and students need a .edu email to sign up. Some sponsors have stepped in to help provide food for the students and the couple hopes to grow their movement to on-location meals.

"We are hoping to plan something for tailgating or maybe even a meal at the Farmers Market," Tom said.

"There's no doubt 100 different reasons why students show up," he explained. "Whether it's missing home, we have international students who maybe haven't gone home or even some just from the coast that like don't get back. Some that are just going through a tough time. So, I feel like gives us a ton of joy," he added.

The couple is working on a book about going viral and how it changed their life and mission.