With O-Week long gone, many of you are probably mourning the copious amounts of free food available throughout the week. Those glorious four days of signing up to mailing lists and getting a tasty snack in return are over, and you’re suddenly having to decide between potentially getting a Myki fine and eating. Capitalism is not kind to hungry uni students.
After a very rocky first year in which jaffy me may or may not have completely cleaned out her bank account at Zambrero’s and Boost, I made it my mission to uncover the best ways to eat for free on campus. Here’s what I’ve found:
Sign up to clubs and societies
Even though O-Week is over, clubs and societies generally still let you sign up either online or at any of their events. It’s definitely worth paying a small sign up fee, because once you do you’ll have access to a number of regular BBQs, picnics and meetings that almost always feature pizza. Even better – join a club that is exclusively food-focused! If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out the clubs listing here. Most club descriptions include the events they hold throughout the year, so you can make sure you won’t be wasting $5 on things that are not edible.
Go to department events
Most departments hold regular events that involve free food! For example, the Wom*n’s Department holds autonomous collectives every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that always feature lots of bread, dips, cheese and sometimes even pizza. Also held on Wednesdays is Lunch with the Queer Bunch at 1pm in the Queer Space, so if you identify as LGBT+ and a woman you’ve already got two mid-week meals sorted. In addition to this, the Welfare Department provides a free breakfast every Thursday from 8:30am, which is pretty great compensation if you’re someone who was unlucky enough to land themselves an early morning lecture or tute.
I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who organises their timetable with the Tuesday BBQ in mind. If you’re free on Tuesdays between 12-2, either intentionally or through sheer luck, you can head over to North Court for some free food and a free gig. The line can get quite long, especially if the band is popular, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re hungry and desperate. There is often free beer and cider available as well, so if you go enough times you can probably almost get your SSAF back! Alcohol is expensive and tastes 10 times better when you don’t have to sift through your small change to pay for it.
Whenever you see a large group of people on campus, you can pretty much guarantee that food is somehow involved. Food is how clubs and departments get people to go to their events! Once I went to a MIRS meeting that I happened to walk past in Old Arts solely because they had a lot of free pizza, even though I am not a member of MIRS. I also went to what I think was a German Club picnic once and they had so many donuts. Some would argue that exploiting clubs for their edible goods is wrong, but sometimes you have to put your morals aside and enjoy that pizza guilt-free.
Ask for help
Sometimes you can’t afford food because you only have $50 to last you until next week, and sometimes you can’t afford food because you have literally no dollars and overdue rent. If you ever find yourself in the latter category, the Welfare Department has a free food bank that is accessible to all students who need a hand. All you have to do is email the Welfare officers, or visit them in their office in Union House, and they’ll throw some essentials together for you.
Once you get your Bachelor of Free Food Consumption you can do a heap of adult things, including but not limited to eating 2 Minute Noodles for dinner because you already ate all the food groups for lunch, and justifying spending $16 on a single pair of socks that have funny dogs on them. So with that, I urge you to go forth and eat all you can get your hands on (and store a little bit in your pockets for later).