A Guide for the Typical, Hungry College Student: Where to Find Free Food

Now I know everyone reading this blog has to love food in some capacity. After all, it is what keeps us fueled for everything we do in life. But, what I’ve noticed since coming to college is that every college student loves FREE food. We are constantly on the lookout for food, though not just any food (don’t worry, our cash free campus and meal plan allows us plentiful access to various good options) but what I’m referring to is catered meals, desserts, and drinks. So without further ado, I present to you the ways in which you can find free food lying around Swarthmore!

  1. Join a club: The easiest way to get free food by far is to join a club or extracurricular activity. So many of our clubs center around food and many will spend their club funding towards providing tasty meals to students. Whether that’s a cultural club like the Swarthmore Muslim Students Association, Kizuna, HAN Korean club, Swarthmore Chinese Society, Kehilah, or Swarthmore African Students Association, you will always be in luck after they host an event because there tend to be leftovers. You can also go to Swat Tango and dance the night away while enjoying freshly baked cupcakes or brownies. Even academic clubs like Mock Trial will work on actual competition briefs, but ultimately take a trip to KPot at the end of the year to celebrate with hot pot.
Food from a HAN Korean club event.
  1. Tag along with your friends to a club activity: While you might not be actively involved in, for example, the Swarthmore Chinese Society, this shouldn’t stop you from tagging along with a friend and going to their events like Lunar New Year where there’s delicious dumplings and snacks for foodies to enjoy. 
  1. Check the Facebook group: Before you even say anything, yes, we Swatties are old-school. Our main form of communication among students besides email blasts which will notify us of potential free food offerings is Facebook. Whenever you crave for some catered meals, always check the Swarthmore Facebook group because I can almost guarantee that there is some club or person who hosted an event and needs to get rid of perfectly edible and yummy food. (The Swarthmore Facebook group is open only to currently enrolled Swarthmore students.)
Insomnia Cookies left over from a SwatVotes event.
  1. Join some committee: Swarthmore has an obsession with committees due to our Quaker heritage. We have committees for everything ranging from professor hiring committees to deciding the next residential coordinator to voting on which chair option is the most comfy before Singer Hall opened. While I haven’t personally experienced this on a committee, I’ve heard that sometimes when you join a committee you might even get lucky and get a nice catered meal. 
  1. Get a campus job: This one might seem a little weird, but from firsthand experience, many jobs will reward you with food at the end of the year thanking you for your service. For example, I worked for the Admissions Office this past year and they catered in Chipotle for the student workers at the end of the semester and I got to enjoy endless amounts of Chipotle. If it wasn’t already obvious, I absolutely love Chipotle, especially their lime flavored chips dipped in guac. 
  1. Do research with a professor: Again, this one might be a head-turner but hear me out. Lots of Swatties, in fact two-thirds of Swatties, will do research with a professor before they graduate. In many situations, the professor will end up inviting the student researchers over for dinner at their house. So in this case, not only are you getting a free home cooked meal, but you will also have a great experience getting to know the professor and their family. 🙂
  1. An Ode to Boba Tea: I have purposely saved this for last, but to explain Swat’s free food scene without mentioning boba tea would be a severe disservice to the entire Swarthmore community. While we are a cash free campus, we definitely have a boba currency. If you want people to show up to any event, whether you’re trying to get opinions for an Inclusive Excellence Fellows Project or boost attendance to a lecture series that the Swarthmore Association for Marginalized Students in Economics (SAME) is hosting, all you need to do is cater boba from Kung Fu Tea. Yes, in theory this is bribing people to come, but it does work as college students LOVE free boba. 
Boba tea that was left over from a SAME (Swarthmore Association for Marginalized Students in Economics) event.

Ultimately, Swatties are no different from any other college students. We are always craving for free food and I hope from reading this you learned a few ways to go about that on Swarthmore’s campus. Enjoy, and I wish you the best on your own treasure hunt for free food!