Whether a student has run out of meal swipes, or a city resident is trying to pinch a penny or two, free food will always come in handy.
Thanks to the good-natured and charitable community in and around Athens, there are many places one can go to grab a bite to eat free of charge. From food pantries to churches, the town is full of employees and volunteers eager to fill the stomachs of hungry patrons.
Reagan Goldberg is a senior studying restaurant, hotel and tourism as well as the president of University Program Council. The University Program Council, or UPC, is a board of students who work to provide free and fun programs for Ohio University students to enjoy.
One of their main events as an organization is a weekly free lunch for students and faculty in Baker University Center. This meal takes place every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in Baker’s Third Floor Atrium.
In order to enjoy this lunch, all interested parties must do is show up hungry. The Wednesday menus vary across the board, with some past lunches including chicken and waffles, nachos and weenies.
“The way I view it is probably if you are in a rush to class, and you don’t have time to get lunch, you have this option,” Goldberg said. “Maybe you’re out of meal swipes that week, … you still need food. I just kind of view it as a free option for students that they know it’s there.”
Goldberg also said it’s a great opportunity for their communication teams to spread their wings and get creative with the advertisements and promotions as well as decide on the theme for each week.
“It’s creative, and it’s something different each week so it’s always something to look forward to,” Goldberg said.
Another organization that provides food for those who want it is the Federal Valley Resource Center Food Pantry. The Federal Valley Resource Center, or FVRC, is located at 8225 State Route 329.
The food pantry partners with Southeast Ohio Food Bank to provide food to the public based on income. A relatively new initiative, only active for around a year, the food pantry distributes boxes of food on the last Sunday of every month; these boxes are handed out to those who are interested and qualify, which is determined based on income.
Clara Ledford, the treasurer for FVRC, said the number of boxes available for households varies. Ledford said Judy Morgan, the vice president for FVRC, is in charge of the food pantry.
“I know one weekend, at the end of the month she (Morgan) had like 60 boxes she gave out,” Ledford said. “That was quite a few—normally it’s anywhere from 30 to 40. It’s getting more popular.”
Food pantry attendees are each allotted one box per family, and they are permitted to fill the box with whatever items they choose.
A location a little closer to campus for OU students to attend is Athens First United Methodist Church, located at 2 S. College St. The church across from the Athens City Parking Garage hosts free lunch every Monday from noon to 1 p.m.
The church has been offering free lunch on Mondays for around 15 years and only doesn’t serve lunch when the Monday falls on Christmas. There are also vegetarian options available.
Additionally, Cats’ Cupboard, the donation center located on the fifth floor of Baker University Center, offers twice monthly pick-up of free food from the pantry. Members of the pantry can shop in person or by appointment.
There are many places that offer free community meals for all ages. Next time one is hungry, they should make sure to check out some of these great organizations.