You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

How feeding one college kid turned into this North Carolina couple feeding over a hundred more

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/7/2021 Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
a woman standing in front of a window: Rachel and Tom Sullivan. © Courtesy: Tom Sullivan Rachel and Tom Sullivan.

How Tom and Rachel Sullivan became viral stars with North Carolina State sophomore Kevin Gallagher is one of those small-world moments.

Around 10 years ago, Rachel left home in Chicago to go to school in North Carolina. In a new environment, a nearby family friend opened up their home to her whenever she needed a place to eat. Over the next four years, Rachel got to meet their neighbors and other friends as she spent endless holidays and weekends with her “adopted parents.” 

Fast forward to the present, and Rachel, 28, was back in her hometown with her husband Tom, 34, before his job relocated them to North Carolina. Tom was at the gym when he ran into Gallagher, the son of one of those neighborly friends Rachel made in college.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

“Him and his friends were all working out trying to eat well, and super intense about dieting, and what they eat. He just kept talking about how he's cutting, but they don't have food at their place,” Tom Sullivan told USA TODAY.

Lucky for Gallagher, Tom Sullivan had become quite the chef. It was 12 years ago when he lived on his own and was looking for a hobby. That hobby became cooking.

Years of learning how to cook came in handy since Rachel was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition in which ovaries do not regularly release eggs, resulting in irregular periods and a smaller chance of getting pregnant. 

Since the couple were trying to have a baby, they were told what types of foods Rachel should be eating to help regulate her hormones, which Tom used as a way to expand his cooking expertise. He even made an Instagram account called “mealssheeats” to show off the food he would make.

With Tom as the family chef, he invited Gallagher over to grab some dinner. It wasn’t long afterward where it turned into whenever he made extra food, he’d tell Gallagher to come over. Going over time and time again caused  Gallagher and the Sullivans to develop a close bond.

“They're basically a part of our family now, like I'm part of theirs,"  Gallagher told USA TODAY. "It's kind of just a cool dynamic we have.”

Rachel Sullivan, who was active on TikTok, posted a video of “Kevin the college kid” coming over for food. The video now has over 13 million views, with multiple commenters asking whether they could be like Gallagher.

“All these other kids were like, ‘Oh my God, can we be adopted?’” Rachel Sullivan said. 

The idea of taking in more kids wasn’t crazy to them; it resulted in the Sullivans starting their own meals-to-go program where they now make meals that fit Rachel’s diet, for over 100 nearby college students.

As more people come over to grab some food and meet their dog, Odin, the Sullivans said each student expresses how much gratitude they have for getting a home-cooked meal. 

a man and a woman standing in front of a cake: Rachel Sullivan with Kevin Gallagher. © Courtesy: Tom Sullivan Rachel Sullivan with Kevin Gallagher.

“They all end up staying inside and talking, and I think it's officially hit the point where like, these kids, we can see how happy they are. And we're definitely getting as much joy out of it,” Tom Sullivan said. “You can see how genuine it is.”

“I appreciate them so much," Gallagher said. "I will remember this to the day I die, and I will always be grateful. It's nice to just have food on standby that I can just go and snack on between my classes or while I'm working on a project or something. I've just been so appreciative of everything they've done for me.”

Local college students can still sign up to get meals from the Sullivans, as they try to make big meals every week, if not a couple of times a month. With thousands of followers on Instagram and TikTok, they also have been in contact with people who want to do the same in their community. 

While they don’t know what the future holds, their dream is to travel campuses like ESPN’s College Gameday, only this would be just feeding students.

Through all the cooking and fame, the couple haven’t lost sight of one day having a baby. Their dog Odin is already popular, so they figure their baby would already be a celebrity.

“I can't wait for our kid to be like everyone's favorite kid,” Rachel Sullivan said. “An added family member would be awesome.”

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How feeding one college kid turned into this North Carolina couple feeding over a hundred more



image beaconimage beaconimage beacon