Where to Find Free Food On and Around College Campuses

Campus Foraging

Most people start their freshman year of college with a snazzy little meal plan that gets thrown in with their dorm payment package. These same people often find themselves three months into the first semester with a little over 72 cents left in their meal accounts to make last for another full semester and a half.

This is when things start to get interesting. What do you do at this point? Do you call your parents and ask for more money? Absolutely not. They hardly believed you were independent enough to send away to college in the first place. You don’t wanna give them that satisfaction, but also, you need to find a way to feed yourself until Christmas break.

Feeding yourself on a student budget won’t be as difficult as it sounds. There are so many cheap and free meal options, especially around college campuses, that, if you look hard enough, you can find free food almost any day of the week. Here are seven tips for feeding yourself when you’re too proud to admit defeat and ask the parents for more money.

Do Some Club Auditing
You’ll soon realize that there is a college club or organization lobbying for your membership everywhere you turn on campus. At first, the infinite number of information booths and obnoxiously enthusiastic ambassadors littering your walk to class are nothing more than a daily pain in the ass. Then you run out of food money and suddenly your outlook changes. Nearly all of these clubs hold weekly meetings that are open to prospective members. And do you know how they get new people to attend these meetings? They order enough pizza to put a baby elephant in a food coma. To take full advantage of this, all you need is a little coordinating. Not all student clubs have their meetings on the same day, so with a little research you can set up a week where you’re visiting a new organization for free food every night.

Pick a Religion, Any Religion
I get it. You’re still in your little post-high school agnosticism kick. That’s fine, but is it really worth starving over? There will be times when there isn’t a club willing to throw free pizza in your face, and that’s when you look for the on-campus church, temple or prayer center to pick up the slack. Regardless of your opinions on any particular religious institution, you can’t knock the faithful for their desire to feed.

Donate Blood
A wise man named Hank Hill once said that if you really want something, you’ve got to play through the pain. This should be your mantra when you’re getting close to the 24-hour mark of not eating and the only apparent source of free food on campus is the blood drive bus. Yeah, needles suck, but so does malnourishment.

Visit Places at Closing Time
One thing you might try is to stop by restaurants before closing time. Many restaurants will just throw away any food that won’t be as fresh the next day because we live in America. Sometimes these restaurants will get generous with late-night visitors. We’re guessing that if you can move past the crippling shame of asking another adult for free food as he or she finishes up a grueling 13-hour shift at Bill Miller’s, then you probably deserve a handout or two.

Eating Contest
Or, instead of begging or freeloading, you can earn yourself some free food. And if the idea of chowing down on as much free food as your body can physically tolerate wasn’t good enough on its own, don’t forget that you’ll most likely be competing for a cash prize. Meaning you might actually end up with enough money to resume purchasing meals like a normal college student.