Free food for all: The best spaces to scavenge

With the honeymoon period of the freshmen First 40 well in the past, it’s time to face the reality that there won’t be a WUSA or random club handing you granola bars and cookies in every alleyway. General body meetings offering free bubble tea to the first 100 attendees are long gone. Avoiding malnourishment during finals week can be a real problem; suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a great idea to join crew, swim team, lacrosse and pack on 21 credits in classes.

Whether your meal points are dwindling or they ran out long ago, it seems that the suggested balance never comes close to what you actually need to make it through the semester. Discussing the economy of meal points creates some noticeable class distinctions at Washington University. While those who are on the Silver Plan may snicker as they gorge on their potato gnocchi from Ibby’s in disbelief that anyone could possibly “run out” of points, those on the Bronze Plan or the even poorer Off-Campus Plan must strategize. Sometimes buying the foot-long of the month for the 10th day in a row at Subway is motivation enough to find more creative ways to shamelessly scavenge for food.

Although there are plenty of events that waste exorbitant amounts of money on food as a way to bribe audiences to attend, everyone knows that the best events to score a full stomach are lecture receptions. Washington University has a tradition of offering a full spread of hors d’oeuvres whenever anyone vaguely important talks. Often catered by Bon Appetit, these events cost the University hundreds of dollars to offer trays teeming with fruit, pastries, bruschetta, luxury cheeses and delicacies, all typically served with unmonitored wine. There is usually so much excess that full platters are thrown away. Hungry students who can’t believe such discreet and anonymous opulent meals exist should flood the tables. Guest lectures are offered in every department and expect better quality food if the speaker happens to be from Harvard or Yale University.

The best receptions by far take place in the Sam Fox School of Architecture and Design. Especially make note of Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum exhibition openings, where the people who plan the events carry over their worldly taste in art into choice in food; past menus have included smoked chicken tartine with cranberry relish, feta frittata bites and edamame hummus with pita crisps. Expect vegan options, vegetarian options and several courses that scale the food pyramid. For a few seconds, you can ditch your reputation of starving student and feel like a noble, nibbling on mushroom pâté and sipping pinot noir while admiring contemporary photography in the museum’s atrium.

DUC ’N Donuts and DUC Tuesday Tea don’t appear frequently enough to sustain you, so take advantage of one of the last events for the fall semester: the longstanding tradition of Moonlight Breakfast on Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Expect long lines of confused freshmen if you show up for the one in Bear’s Den at 9:55 p.m. and bring something to do in the hour that you’ll be waiting for a few pieces of melon and a donut. Instead, try the Village Dining Hall at 11 p.m., where you’ll find a practically deserted feast of endless pastries, bacon, waffles and other breakfast fare waiting.

When all else fails, old tactics of becoming friends with freshmen and living off the coffee vending machine in Olin Library always come in handy. It’s lucky that every receptionist on campus seems to have a full candy jar at all times. Although, when the campus squirrels are looking plumper than you are, perhaps it’s time to bite your lip at the disdain of using non-imaginary currency and simply pay for things. But ultimately, attending some of these events for the free food could do more than save you money; they may pique your interest in something unexpected. You could meet some genuinely fascinating people, and enjoy something more than just a full stomach.