Feature: The Collegiate Diet: A Week of Free FoodWritten by Max Lasser, Sarah Kobos
I walked around Russell House having just gotten out of “beginning weightlifting” class looking for something that resembled the Hillel group’s “Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Leah.” I figured this was a good way to take advantage of my Jewish heritage, but I’d forgotten the room number for the event, so I was basically walking around in search of bagels. No luck, so I didn’t eat lunch that day. I did stumble upon some sort of sewing club, but the closer I got to them, the more self-conscious I was that I wasn’t wearing anything pastel or handknit, and by the time I was 20 feet away, I lost all courage and left.
So then it was 7 p.m., and since I hadn’t eaten anything all day, I gave Hillel another try. Hillel is a group of people who have the most relaxed atmosphere of any religious group on campus. “Ice Cream Social,” however, is a pretty inaccurate description of the event I attended because there isn’t really anything social about not leaving enough sprinkles for everyone else. I sat in a middle row alone and tried to sneak up to the ice cream buffet enough times to get my full day’s worth of vitamins.
I went to the Muslim Student Association’s Eid Festival in Green Quad. It was the celebration of the end of Ramadan and a presentation on the importance of multiculturalism. Since I spent most of the previous night worried I was going to throw up a sundae like the girl from “The Exorcist,” I was excited for new food. They served yellow chicken and basmati rice from Al-Amir’s, which was undeniably the best organizational food I had and highlighted the most important pillar of diversity and acceptance, which is that vegetarians can go eat at some other presentation, the jerks.
I went to a “Free Wings and Fries” event at McCutchen House, which showcased culinary student cooking. I was greeted at the door by a very pleasant man who slowly deduced that I was there only for free food, but who, bless him, let me in anyway. The generosity of the USC HRTM program is unmatched (the food itself was amazing: wings with a sweet twinge, fries, cookies and drinks), and while we were eating, two freshman girls carrying fruit plates came and sat with us, so I felt guilty for pouring ranch on everything and accordingly switched to fruit and water. I never told anyone about my food challenge, but if I had somehow died of proper, balanced nutrition, it would have been because of these girls.
I tried to attend the Vietnamese Student Association meeting, but again, I wandered around Russell House and couldn’t find them. This time I did have the right room number, but they weren’t there. Then I accidentally wandered in to the Pan-African Student Association meeting and had to politely explain to a room of 40 racially diverse people that I was looking for the Vietnamese.
The Pan-African Student Association didn’t appear to have any free food, which is unfortunate because I’m not about to learn about another culture without the enticement of a cupcake or a plastic cup of Diet Coke.
On Day 5, I went to a Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) meeting. BCM is sort of a conglomerate, low-key worship service. They served something called “taco in a bag” in which you filled a Doritos bag with meat, cheese and vegetables. Despite making me feel intensely American, it was cute and quite good. The service itself was interesting, especially since I’m the poster child for atheism. It opened with a Beatles song and then moved to some very sing-along-able praise music. My Christian persona (essentially still me, except that I keep my eyebrows raised in an attempt to look earnest) sang along and had a great time.
Today, I went to the Carolina Investment Club meeting, which was the absolute best club to go to if you want not just free food but lots of it. Unlike every other student organization meeting I’d been to, these kids were there to do real work—leaving eight boxes of pizza all to me. That’s a slight exaggeration, but I think I ate an entire box. This club is led by a group of individuals so suave and charismatic that I had an undeniable urge to leave and get coffee for them and to do their dry cleaning. I was able to loosely follow the stock pitch of the day (Apple; an example for the newer analysts), although by the time the members were up to four anagrams per sentence, I was lost. (“You see, AAPL’s P/E look really good compared to their GPD, and compared to weakening IPO’s, a longstanding company like Apple enjoys a high EBT. Any questions? Yes, you with the cheap watch, eating all the pizza?”)
On the seventh day, I rested.
So, how long can you survive? The answer is “not very long” if you have class from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. like I do and enjoy eating lunch. But I admit, I’m a cheater. Some events appear out of order, and gum or a small steak may have found their way into my mouth at some point in this experiment. I make no apologies, but hey, from my experience, during the week you almost never have to pay for dinner if you know the right people, want to learn more about your classmates and willing to always eat like you’re at a fifth grade homeroom party.
Organizations I Wished Served Food:
News From Last Thursday
The Pan-African Student Organization
Organizations I Should Have Visited:
USC College Republicans (meeting too far off campus)
C.S. Lewis Book Club (worried I wouldn’t be able to restrain myself from jokes about “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” while talking about Christ)
Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity (no clean clothes)
Organizations I Wish Existed:
USC Food Appreciation
USC Narcotics-influenced Passion Pit Listeners
Gamecocks Who Talk About Wanting to Go Skydiving but Never Make any Effort to Actually Do it Because it’s Terrifying
Thursday, 06 October 2011 00:44
posted by Joseph Boldy
I'd recommend this to any literate person with a sense of humor!
Thursday, 06 October 2011 00:45
posted by Roger Ebert
I agree, Joseph. A great read. Article of the season in my professional opinion. Two thumbs way way up!
Thursday, 06 October 2011 22:54
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I thought I saw someone who was only there for the pizza at that Carolina Investment Association meeting.
Thursday, 15 December 2011 15:36
It was a great effort, it is a serious issue.
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