It’s already 3:00 p.m. and student Breckwan Oliver has already eaten a full course breakfast consisting of waffles, eggs, sausage and orange juice along with a lunch featuring pizza, wings and cookies — all of which he’s paid absolutely nothing for.
Every morning, Oliver scours the bulletin boards and takes notes on the events being hosted and, every evening, wonders the Student Centers looking for student events that may provide food. Oliver is not alone, as he has got a major network of people behind him, all doing the same and ready to post the exact whereabouts to a GroupMe of over 900 other people.
“I run a major network of free food at Georgia State,” Oliver said. “We read the student org website. We check flyers. We just walk into events … When one person knows about the free food, they’ll post it.”
Oliver had enough free time between classes to pop in to whatever student events were happening during the time. He noticed that many of the events provided food that wasn’t always eaten. Oliver knew how expensive food on campus was and wanted to give others the opportunity to find it. Then, in the spring of 2019, Free Foodies @ GSU was born.
“I want to provide students a network to get some free food on campus. It would decrease the food waste from organizations,” Oliver said. “Each organization has a budget … Not every organization has the same amount on their budget.”
Free Foodies @ GSU is not the first group organized along these lines, as multiple groups before it led the way, such as Free Food at GSU and The Lunchroom, both of which were looking to close the gap between orgs and students.
“Well, a lot of people have definitely saved more from using the group chat and a lot of orgs that promote themselves with free food have definitely gotten more members,” Dexter, the creator of Free Food at GSU said. “Since a lot of programs around the campus offer free food but lack a means to spread the info, I decided to create it. It’s a win-win.”
The Lunchroom had a similar origin story.
“I used to be on the marketing committee for Spotlight. And I really just started it to promote events because free food was always the best selling point to students,” Josh Williams, the creator of The Lunchroom group, said.
Tony Thelwell is an avid user of the Free Foodies @ GSU group. When The Signal spoke to him, he had already eaten breakfast and lunch free of charge. Thelwell started using Free Foodies @ GSU chat after realizing that he couldn’t continue spending money on food for the time he was on campus for his classes.
“I spent over a thousand dollars in less than two months on food,” Thelwell said. “I was trying to buy lunch, dinner and snacks in between.”
Thelwell now eats 80% of his meals for free on campus.
“I don’t buy groceries,” Thelwell said.
Thelwell recommends Wednesdays and Thursdays as the best days for free food. You may find him in the Student Center on those days until late.
“If you’re still at school usually starting around 5 p.m. there are often several events with food,” he said. “I walk around the fourth floor of Student Center West starting around 5 pm because [that’s] where most of the free food events are.”
While Thelwell enjoys mingling with new people, popping into different events has gotten him into some awkward situations, such as being the only guy at a sorority’s meeting.
“One time, this girl came into the chat and advertised an event,” Thelwell said. “So, I walked to the event and when I went in, it was a bunch of girls and I was like, “Oh, is this babba fedah new exu or whatever, and they were like, ‘Yes’ … They were all looking at me. [It] was for members only.”
As for which student organizations to look out for, Thelwell said he likes going to Christian Bible Studies.
“Christian events have food. They’re cool, they’re nice,” Thelwell said. “The [one] I’m a part of is having a big dinner next week. [I’m] not religious at all … I just go for food and to socialize.”
He also recommends cultural groups as having the best food and International Education Week in November as hitting the jackpot.
“All the different student associations get assigned a night and have a big banquet,” Thellwel said. “I went to a Latina event with a full meal, an Asian event with a full meal, an Indian student event with a full meal.”
And although Thelwell and Oliver enjoy all the food offered on campus, they both agree that it’s more about meeting new people and actually going to different events. In fact, they both know each other and met at an event at the Creative Media Initiative Institute.
“I usually come for the event, the food is just a bonus,” Oliver said. “I have a lot of free time.”
Both students said to be prepared to stay. Thelwell once spent an hour learning an Indian dance in anticipation of food and he doesn’t regret it.
“They have some interesting stuff that goes on at these events,” he said. “I discover different clubs through events.”
Now, after meeting Oliver at an event, Thelwell is a member of Oliver’s club, Binge Watchers United.
And as for what the student organizations think, they are fine sharing food as long as you listen to what they have to say.
“In some cases, I don’t mind, but if you’re making it obvious that you’re here for the food, slow your roll,” Omoloma Solaru, a member of a life fellowship organization with weekly Bible studies, said. “If you’re coming to an event, stay at least and listen to what they have to say. You might not be interested, but you might end up liking what we’re doing and come back again. Who knows?”
The student’s lasting message is to get out of your comfort zone because free food is everywhere, you just have to find it.
Free Foodie Tips:
- Stay active on OrgSync
- Keep your head up looking for flyers
- Don’t be afraid to answer a quick survey
- Know the specialty weeks
- Check the Free Food groups
- Make the Student Center your best friend