What: I Love Mondays: make your own cannoli
When: Monday, 2 to 3 p.m.
Where: UMC dining room
U niversity of Colorado freshman Evan Brookens said after a semester of dining hall food, he has started looking for new, affordable meal options this spring.
Brookens' budget limits his options outside of his pre-paid meal plan, but luckily, he's learned that the campus of nearly 30,000 students almost always offers freebies.
"I think I could live off of the free food for a semester," Brookens said. "There's always someone offering free pizza or snacks if you know where to look."
The University Memorial Center offers freebies throughout the year in efforts to raise awareness of events or connect with students across campus.
The UMC started I Love Mondays in the fall to encourage community building and bring students into the center, said event organizer Kim Kruchen. Events often include free food or drinks for students, like creating root beer floats, decorating cookies, making cannolis and free pizza and music.
"On average, we have approximately 75 students coming by every week and participating," Kruchen said. "This event is always free and a great way to cure your case of the Mondays."
The Dennis Small Cultural Center, also in the UMC, offers free monthly cooking classes that often feature international dishes.
The cooking classes are hosted by students, faculty and staff or local chefs and are free to students. Students can visit umc.colorado.edu for more event details.
In the fall, the Women's Resource Center, Peace Corps office and study abroad office were among those that offered free food to students as a way to lure them to events.
While most offices offer snacks or the occasional slice of pizza, the Alumni Association provides lunch to students once a week during their Welcome Wednesday events.
Student groups often offer freebies, like pizza, at their first meetings of the semester, when they're looking to increase membership, or at events where they want to attract more attention.
Ellie Roberts, chair of CU's Student Group Funding Board, said student groups are allowed to use fee money to provide free food at their meetings in hopes of attracting student interest but not for events.
As a student and member of several student groups, Roberts said food is effective in drawing attention to a group meeting that students might otherwise walk by.
"It's a big draw," Roberts said. "I'm much more likely to go if I see free food somewhere."
Having food at a meeting can also make first-timers feel less awkward, Roberts said.
"It's like getting to know someone over dinner," she said. "It makes you feel obligated to talk to people, so it's a great open forum."
Early semester meetings often have more filling food options, she said, since they're expecting more people and are looking to attract new students. Mid-semester meetings usually lead to smaller snacks, and a lot of groups will host end of the semester parties with lots of munchies for members near finals.
Brookens said free food is successful at getting him to walk in the door, but the event has to be interesting enough to keep him hooked.
"I've joined a couple of student groups because I showed up for the free food and it turned out they were pretty cool," he said.
Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter.