Penn’s Largest On Campus Cult: The Free Food Grout Chat

Since coming to Penn, I have been searching for the secret sauce to survive Penn Dining, knowing that my dining dollars will inevitably run out if my appetite for dining hall food doesn’t first. I am happy to report that I have finally found it: The Penn Free Food GroupChat aka the biggest cult on campus.

Ever since NSO, the fridge in my triple has been fully stocked. So stocked that we have been running a pseudo soup kitchen out of our room and have recently had to divy up some of the supply to the speakman fridge in the kitchen. The largest benefactor to our seemingly endless supply of food in our Strega Nona fridge and double-stacked-bookshelf-pantry has indeed been the Free Food Chat. 

I’d like to offer a few tips and tricks to allow you to maximize your potential membership of this elite organization. 

  1. Indoctrination 

It’s all about the connections. I’m only partly kidding about that. All you have to do is find someone who’s already in the chat and have them send you a link. It might sound difficult, but the free fooders are EVERYWHERE! It is entirely possible that your best friend has been a member this whole time and you had no idea. Personally, my roommate sent me the link, and since then, I have dropped the link to many a hangry person to spread the love.

  1. Autobots! Gear up and Roll Out 

One of the hottest tips I have for new members is to acquire containers early, and to acquire a lot of them. A good reusable container is a great thing to have on deck. If you don’t like carrying around extra bulk, I recommend silicone collapsible tupperware containers. You can find them on amazon and they fold up nice and compactly. If neither of those ideas seem to float your boat, a lot of free food events have disposable tupperware containers that I always recommend taking a couple extra of – in moderation of course. The McClelland chicken bowl containers are also great to reuse when washed out. As a general rule of thumb – never go anywhere without a bag (have a tote bag at the very least). You never know when you’ll pass by a free food event. 

  1. Wake up Babe, a New Free Food Chat Post Just Dropped!!! 😱 

The posts are pretty darn frequent, and they drop when you are least expecting it. Always be on the lookout for them and turn on your notifications!! The sooner you get to the locations the better, and the more of a guarantee you have of getting the food you want. The last thing you want to happen is to trek all the way over to a location on the outskirts of Town(e) only to find that there is no food to be found. I usually make a little activity out of it and grab a buddy to tag along as I visit the scavenger hunt locations for the day. 

  1. Community Spirit 🙂

In general, the community is quite a wholesome place. If you reap the benefits of it, consider doing some community service and posting things that you pass by around campus that have free food. Be warned however that if the food is not absolutely free, then caveats should be mentioned. If you are desperate to boost attendance at a club event and post about “free insomnia” but don’t mention that you have to “attend the whole meeting,” prepare to be roasted. Or as Arthur Tressler would say, “shredded” on a bad day (any now you see me fans out there?). If you want to make sure you’re the one doing the eating, and avoid being ate, then follow this simple graphic for making posts: 

All of this being said, the free food chat does have the occasional scandal when a person doesn’t listen to the rules. Assuming you are not the cause of the scandal, it’s important to be wary of people who post seemingly good deals during a dry spell in the chat to entice you, only for you to realize that they didn’t list some caveats. Generally, if a person posts about free insomnia and it’s for a club, you are probably expected to stay the whole meeting. Go near the end in that case, or risk walking over there and finding out. Not to mention, you can always drop a clarification question in the chat and help some other people out while you’re at it. 

If you do ever happen to get canceled on there, don’t fret as there’s so many people you’ll probably be forgotten if not immediately, at least when the next scandal arises. 

If you follow these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to your own fully stocked fridge in no time, and be able to gleefully watch as your dining analytics predictions for dollars and swipes left at the semester continue to rise. Happy eating!

Photo (1) by Abhiram Juvvadi, The Daily Pennsylvanian 11/3/22

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