University Housing launches new food initiative, free food for campus community

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, Staff Writer

University Housing has expanded a food initiative program called “Everybody Eats,” now allowing members of the campus community to eat for free at some dining hall locations.

The initiative is based on the “honor code” and no ID or sign-up is required. It is available to students, faculty and staff.

In addition, there is no limit on how many times the same individual can get food, as it is available as needed.

The program offers rice and soup, which is available at the second floor of Ikenberry Dining Hall and ground floor of Illinois Street Residence Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. until Dec. 18.

Carrie Anderson, administrative executive chef for residential dining, says these buildings were strategically picked because they are open to the public.

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“This Champaign-Urbana community is the Illini community,” Anderson said. “It’s very close-knit. There are no parameters on who can be hungry.”

In addition, Anderson says the team wanted the food to be accessible and for people to not worry about whether or not they could afford it. 

“Everybody Eats” was first created by Bevier Cafe in Oct. 2020, with Bevier Cafe opting for a “pay-what-you-can” model for the remainder of the fall semester.

At Bevier Cafe, students could choose to pay the menu price, their own price, pay more than the menu price or pay it forward. 

The food initiative team wrote the proposal on Oct. 19, and the soft open began in late October. 

The team found inspiration when they participated in a student affairs exchange program three years ago at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

The program in Shanghai was focused around the idea of minimizing food waste. For example, their soup was made from products that would normally become food waste yet was usable, like the end part of celery and its leaves.

So far, Anderson says there has been very low participation in the program because they have been treating it like a soft opening.

“We didn’t want to get overwhelmed just right out of the gate with saying that this service is available and potentially not being able to meet the needs,” Anderson said. 

Anderson says they will begin intentional marketing next semester.

After this semester, the initiative will begin again on Jan. 17 when the dining halls reopen. 

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this article said the food initiative was open to the CU public. It is only open to members of campus community currently. The Daily Illini regrets this error.