Gusta: your online community for food events, worldwide

What happens when two former food-loving employees get together and create a company? You get Gusta, an online global community of chefs, venues, food enthusiasts, and events.

Founders Chris Collins and Carly Chamberlain wanted an outlet for world and armchair travelers to find out about food events and dining locales in specific regions, and enable them to purchase tickets or make reservations directly from their site.

How it works: industry peeps go to Gusta and post events for supper clubs, food tours, food trucks, cheese shops, wine bars, cooking classes, pop-up and traditional restaurants, food festivals, event spaces, or any other creative food endeavors. You go to Gusta, create a free account, select your city of choice, and see what’s going on when you’re in town.

Just looking for a great meal? Use Gusta to find, review, and book dining experiences in your home city and when you travel. Want to automatically receive a $10 coupon for any one event posted on Gusta? Click here. Happy holidays!

Flight Attendant terminated after admitting she qualified for food stamps

We’re beginning to sympathize with the JetBlue flight attendant who made the dramatic exit via emergency slide after hearing this latest news from the flight deck. A legal battle is pending after a Compass Airlines flight attendant admitted publicly that she qualified for food stamps.

Kristen Arianejad was terminated on August 25 after being featured in a local television program and admitting she was approved for food stamps to supplement her wages.

Arianejad is being represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).

“Poverty is not a crime and it is despicable that Compass Airlines would fire an employee for speaking the truth,” said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. “Unfortunately, there are flight attendants across the country who have to rely on federal and state assistance to make ends meet.

Instead of paying hardworking flight attendants a living wage, airline management would rather shame them and make them fear for their jobs. We call on Compass to immediately reinstate Kirsten Arianejad.”

Compass flight attendants have a starting salary of between $13,842 ($1,153.50/month) and $15,453 ($1,287.75/month). Individuals living in Arizona, Arianejad’s state of residence, can have a maximum income of $1,671 to qualify for food stamps.

Compass Airlines is headquartered in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and often conducts regional flights on behalf of Delta.

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Hey, college students: Here are 5 ways you can afford that next trip

College can be a cruel time for would-be globe-trotters: It’s often the time when you most want to travel– whether it’s Spring Break in Mexico or a month in Europe– but it’s also one of the times you’re least able to. Why?

No money. Sure, it might be easy to take out tens of thousands of dollars of student loans to fund your trip, but you will pay for this, with compound interest, later. Better to find some creative ways to scrape together some cash so you can turn your dream trip into reality.

Here are five non-traditional tips that’ll save you some real dough:

1. Your campus bookstore is ripping you off big time. Please don’t tell me that you still buy and sell your textbooks at the campus bookstore. Why not just take your money and flush it directly down the toilet? (Or, hell, I’ll take it.)

Buying and selling your books online can save you hundreds of dollars per semester. ( works best for me.) Another tip: As soon as you figure out what books you need for the semester, see if they’re available at your university’s library. Often you can check out textbooks for an entire semester and return them when the course is over.

Finally, if a course “requires” a textbook’s new 12th edition (cost $140), buy the book’s 11th edition (cost $2.99). The book’s page numbers will be different, but the content will probably be very similar.

2. Suckle at the government teat. If you work at least 20 hours per week and make less than $1,200 per month– the exact requirements depend on your state– you might be eligible for food stamps, a form of federal assistance that can provide you with hundreds of dollars per month to spend on groceries.

Nowadays, food stamp recipients don’t use actual stamps but a type of debit card, so that no one but you (and maybe the cashier) has to know that you’re suckling at the government teat.

3. Selling your plasma is not that embarassing. Nothing signals financial desperation quite like donating plasma. But if you’re saving up money for a trip, an extra $70 per week ($35 for donating twice per week) can really come in handy.

What’s involved in donating plasma? On your first trip, you’ll have to fill out lots of paperwork, receive a physical, and take a drug test. (Note: “Negative” is, paradoxically, a good result.) After that, you’ll sit back for an hour or so, watch the plasma drain from your body, and feel the cash roll in. For those of you near a major airport, eight plasma donations might just buy you a round-trip ticket to Costa Rica. Adiós, sangre!

4. Shopping at Aldi, Save-a-lot, and Price Rite is not that embarassing either. For the poor college student with $11 a week to spend on groceries, these stores are, for lack of a better term, the bomb-diggity. Canned goods, milk, and snacks are ridiculously cheap, and you won’t notice a drop in quality. Admittedly, these are no-frills places– not an olive bar, exotic fruit, or free sample to be found. But you’ll save a ton of money.

5. Here, have forty-five bucks. An investment site called Sharebuilder has an ongoing promotion that gives you $50 for signing up for their service and spending at least $5. I’ve done this, multiple times, and it works like a charm. And so far, the police have not come knocking on my door. (Well they have, but not for this.)

I’d suggest plugging “Sharebuilder promotion code 2009” into your favorite search engine, then doing some research. The money takes 4-6 weeks to arrive, but it’s free money, so quit yer bitchin’.

Have any more money-saving tips for poverty-stricken students? Leave ’em in the comments.