In honor of National Pancake Day, IHOP gave customers a free short stack Tuesday.
To all of the poor college students out there paying for food: Stop. There’s probably a place you can get your next meal for free.
Since Tuesday was National Pancake Day, IHOP gave a free short stack of pancakes to all customers (who were then asked to donate to a charity). However, IHOP isn’t the only chain that gives away free food. If you missed those pancakes, there are plenty of other options to look out for.
For Dan Dao, a junior at New York University, IHOP’s pancake day was definitely not his favorite day of the year.
“I worked at IHOP for two years and free pancake day was awful for us as employees, although it was a good promotion,” Dao said.
However, he does frequently take advantage of other restaurant deals, including “buy one, get one free” meal deals in which he buys two meals with a friend and then splits the cost. He also searches for deals in which restaurants give away free food if the customer “checks in” at or “likes” the business on Facebook.
Finding check-in deals on Facebook is easy to do on your phone. Just go to the check-in tab on Facebook and a yellow or green sign will show up next to nearby businesses with deal offers. Location-based app Foursquare offers a similar service.
Other companies automatically give you a discount on food if you “like” their page. Popular delivery service Seamless currently gives users $7 off their order when they hit “like.”
Buy one, get one free deals are also very widespread. For example, if you buy one two-scoop sundae at Baskin-Robbins, you get a second one free of charge.
Ben & Jerry’s also holds free-cone days in the spring, 7-Eleven gives away free slurpies on July 11 (7/11 — get it?) and Chick-fil-A gives away a free entree on Cow Appreciation Day (but only if you show up dressed as a cow).
Zach Getson, a sophomore at Auburn University, did much more than dressing up as a cow to get free food.
“I’ve run a mile while drinking chocolate milk after each lap, which was horrible, in order to get free donuts,” Getson said.
As an athlete, Getson needs large amounts of food to stay full, and he can’t spend much money on any single meal. He advises students who can’t find free food (but want to save money) to buy in bulk and freeze groceries.
Local restaurants often give away food or have special deals when they first open, so keep an eye out for new places, especially those surrounding college campuses. They usually want to draw in students from the beginning.
For Talha Cheema, a senior at the College of New Jersey, finding free food can be a way to hang out with friends on a budget.
He goes to Rita’s, an Italian ice shop, every year for free-ice day on the first day of spring. Once, he went to three different Rita’s and waited in line for about 30 minutes at each.
“There are long lines, but it is always a social event with friends so we don’t mind,” he said.
Sometimes, free food is only a tweet away. College campuses often have free food at special events, so some enterprising students even created Twitter accounts at Vanderbilt University and New York University that tweet the locations of free food to thousands of students.
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