Food is the most abundant, yet most needed nutrient (apart from water) your body needs in order to function. Do not deprive yourself of food, cause you dont have any money. There are several places you can find free food.
First and foremost, just ask for it. Yes just ask for it. There are a few methods that will get you food this way that you should be willing to try. First off. Dress the part of your audiance. (I.E. if you are trying to get food from truckers, passing as a hitchiker, is a good idea. If you are trying to get food from a blue collar buisness owner, dress like a blue collar worker who is down on their luck. If you are trying to get food from a 5 star resteraunt, dress as fancy as possible and complain about everything)
How to ask for food is an art form. Some people will ask the store owners if they can rummage through the trash in the back without making a mess, and often times the owner will be embarrassed by this, and just give you food. Others make up this ellaborate story of how they are down on their luck and traveling, and yadda yadda yadda, but be careful with this method as most people are impatient with bums and mooches, and will refuse you anything. The most successful method is to offer to work off a meal. Sometimes they wont even have you work, but will be so supprised you want to work for it, they will give it to you free of charge. No work involved.
some tips on asking for a handout are...
always ask for something lower grade than what youre shooting for, for example, if you want a soda, say you want a cup of water, (if they dont upgrade you, you can always fill up at the soda fountain like they care anyway) another example is some friends swear by the approach of just asking the people if you can sift through their trash, and mention you are traveling through town. they say the owners generally give you stuff rather than have you out back diving.
look semi-clean. nobody likes a smelly bum anywhere, be polite, and friendly, and accept defeat if you dont get anything. there are plenty of other places to ask.
managers, and franchises are less likely to give handouts as opposed to one of a kind and mom and pop places.
dont hold up the line chit chatting, wait till the line dies down, and if it doesnt, go elsewhere. Lurching about not buying anything is a bad idea.
A friend recommends "don't pass up any church function - Tell em you're hungry and smelled their chili supper or pancake or fishfry-ask if you could help with the dishes or clean up- for a plate of food- and stand by afterwards waddle back to your bike -if they'll let you leave-
and along with church functions protests, weddings, and tailgate parties are also a good start to look for food. Just walk around mingle, pretend to be interested, and eat food.
shelters generally have a food donation bin, but you have to be on it, cause people in shelters have a homing device for the donation trucks, and if you arnt there within the min the truck arrives swinging fists of fury to get a handout, you miss out. Its cut throat at shelters, and this is a last resort. but none the less an option.
heck today i just strolled into a casino, took some food off a table at the buffett where someone had been sitting, then proceeded to go up a few flights of stairs only to find a caddy with room service food on it, i took it of course, cause the people are going to call complain, and the hotel will just cook them more food, and i get a free meal out of it.
If you're living in a campground at a lake or park- Ask the weekenders if you could have any leftovers they may have- don't forget to ask for the alum. cans! Do this Early Sun Morn. I've been given the entire camp- tent, cooler and all" Gnarlychattles.
Another friend said "I used to hang out at local fishing spots where a lot of people went everyday and when I saw someone throw a legally keepable fish back then I'd ask if they could let me have the next one or two that they might catch. They always said yeah and that they loved to catch fish but not clean or cook or eat them." - ursusdave
Friend..."A lot of commercial growers will let you glean. Sometimes you have to do it through an organization, or you can just ask. They can't get everything in the field, and a lot of times they can't sell everything. When I lived in WA, I was part of a gleaning network--we would go pick great apples, cherries, plums, and all kinds of things. My kids and I picked a few hundred pounds of apples and made them into cider, pies, ate fresh, etc. We also got potatoes one time. Some gleaning programs get all of the excess food from stores and distribute it to the members. A note about the corn--sometimes a few rows of corn on the outside are feed corn, not sweet corn, so make sure you get the right stuff." - terra
local markets are good places to find cheap food as well, if not wait till its over and dive the bins. People toss tons of stuff away that they didnt sell durring the weekend.
If you dont want to ask you can swipe it. This is a little different than stealing in that, you just walk in, take what is offered to the public free, and make out like a bandit. For example. You can walk into any free continental breakfast serving hotel and act like you spent the night. Chances are the night shift switched out long before the breakfast is served and therefore the front desk has no idea if you stayed there or not. Take as much as you can eat and stuff into a baggy. The same goes for taking free samples at grocery stores and displays in the mall or wherever you find them. Take as much as you want, who cares? If the place can afford to have them you can take them all if you like. Go to the deli and ask for a slice of a couple diffrent meats & cheese. Resteraunts often have free salad and breadsticks. Eat them while drinking water, and leave, (leaving a few bucks for the waitress if you like, after all its not her fault she has to serve a bum). College campuses have tons of free food especially around orentation week. If you look like a student, not only can you eat lots of free food, but mingle right and you can han gout at parties, and maybe even go home with a few dates!
There is always dumpster diving. Grocery stores, drug stores, basicly anywhere that serves or offers food is free game to dumpster dive. There is food out there for the taking, you just have to get over the ick factor. Food from the trash is subject to the five senses test. Inspect it throughly, and you will be fine. And if you eat something bad, your body can handle itself. You might vomit, but at least you got some nutrients. Although ive been eating out of the trash for close to two years now, and have never vomited from anything i ate out of the trash. I actually eat better out of the trash than if i had to pay for my food. My favorite places to dive are co-ops, and local organic food chains. There you can find the best food for your body for free. Becareful about diving though, conflicts with shop owners and cops are common. be respectful, and leave when they ask you to. And come back when you feel it is safe again. Most people turn their head when they spot a diver. The ick factor is a nice buffer. Use it to your advantage but be careful. Dont overdue it. And get yourself in trouble.
Pick up an edible plant guide, and you will be surprised at the infinate number of common plants and weeds you can digest safely. While youre at it, pick up an edible animal/insect guide with steps on how to dress them as well. Most animals are edible.
You can steal food if you are desperate, but I dont recommend it. If you do steal food, there are guides online on how to steal without getting caught. But the problem with shoplifting is it becomes addictive, and when you get addicted, you get caught. So use it only when you have no other choice.
Eating food others leave behind is a good idea as well. You spot half a sandwich, you can eat it. if you are worried about germs, take lots of vitamin c. Or rip off the bitten off part. And just eat the rest.
there is soo much food out there for the taking, you should never go hungry.
Big cities vs small cities. In big cities you can steal more food, and eat more food off the tables. But you are less likely to get a free meal by asking for it. There is too much competition with other crafty homeless people and generally store owners are over the initial luster of the idea of generosity.
small cities, you are less likely to get away with shoplifting, but you can get a long way by mingling and feeding off of american generosity.