Free Food and Where to Find it

At drop-in advising, I receive many questions about work-life balance, general education requirements, and other degree-related topics; however, there is still one question that I have yet to hear: “Where can I find free food?”

Is it even possible to find food without having to empty your wallet for overpriced items on-campus? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Free food is everywhere, and this blog has the answers on where to look.

There are several places on the UC Davis campus that are great locations for finding either some afternoon munchies or even a potential meal. Here are all the facts you need to know about how to access food without having to empty your wallet.

Aggie Compass has many good resources for those facing food insecurity, especially those affected by the recent CA wildfires. The following places are the resources I am familiar with.

The Pantry

Ranging from snacks and non-perishables to toiletries, The Pantry has it all! Located in the basement of Freeborn Hall, room 21, this resource is available to all UCD students and utilizes a simple 3-point system. Each item is worth 1-3 points and each day, students can choose items until total item worth adds up to a maximum of three. For example, if a package of rice equals 3 points, a can of chicken soup equals 2, and a Cliff bar equals 1, students can either choose to take 1 bag of rice, 3 Cliff bars, or soup and a Cliff bar. In the past, I have received cake mix and even girl scout cookies from the Pantry.

Students also can get free, organic student-grown produce on Mondays and Thursdays in addition to their 3 points thanks to the Fresh Focus Program.

Fruit and Veggie Up

Located at Aggie Compass on the first floor of the Memorial Union, Fruit and Veggie Up is a great program that gives UCD students access to free fruits and vegetables donated from the UCD Student Farm, Tandem Farm, the Davis Co-op, and Nugget Markets. From past experience, I highly suggest that students start lining up half an hour before the event in order to obtain the best items, and also beat the crowd.

(More food resources can be found on Aggie Compass’ website)

Give Me a Pizza That

Pizza can be considered one the most popular college staples, and a great way for student organizations to attract potential members is through pizza. Often times, the first general meetings given by club organizations or promotional events have free pizza, so keep an eye out for listserv emails that mention phrases like “First General Meeting” and “pizza or snacks will be provided.”

Hidden Savings at the Grocery Market

For all of the students living off-campus nearby Safeway or Savemart, I have news for you! Though it is not commonly advertised, Safeway and Savemart occasionally have free items available. That’s right, free.

How does one access these mystical, legitimate freebies that seem too good to be true? Sign up for your local grocery store’s free rewards programs. Most grocery stores have rewards programs that reward loyal customers for buying items. Rewards program members will often receive notification emails giving them access to coupon items or even occasional free items. These free items are generally not advertised but can be found either through email or the rewards website. After adding respective freebie item coupons through online or the app, these items can be redeemed at the store through entering the account’s associated phone number. The rewards programs for Safeway and Savemart are Safeway Rewards and Save Smart Rewards, respectively. From Savemart and Safeway this past year, I have received free cookies, almond milk, chicken tenders, and other items.

As a side note, Savemart and Safeway both have very similar prices on grocery items. Per week, one grocery store might have better deals than the other. A tip for Savemart: when shopping, always look out for yellow tags that say “manager’s sale” (the golden flag of savings) on items that are nearing their “best sold by date.” These items are often times marked down to ridiculously, low prices.

In college, when free handouts are hard to come by, who can resist practical and edible freebies?

I have relinquished all of my free food-finding secrets, but I am sure there are more. If you know of any other places where one can find edible freebies, comment below! Sharing is caring 🙂

Thanks for reading and happy snacking!

Vanessa Som
BASC Peer Advisor
3rd Year, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, Class of 2020


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