Poverty Potluck

by admin on February 6, 2013

This is more a question concerning etiquette, and what I should do.

First, some background, I am a university student who lives on campus. I have no access to a stove/oven, microwave, etc. People who know me, know I have no possible way of cooking for myself, and that I get most of my meals from the dining hall services.

I have a poor job and earn only minimum wage. Almost all of the money from that job goes to paying my university fees or I save so I can visit my family during breaks (It’s roughly $120 both ways- which is also how much I make in two weeks.) I don’t exactly have spending money.

Now, I have been invited to three or four potlucks this year. The first one, I stated I could not attend, as I had no way to cook anything or the money to purchase food. My university society (almost all of which live off campus in their own homes), replied with a positive, “Show up anyway”. Still, I felt it was unfair to those who had brought food – so I ended up staying in my dorm room and eating at the meal hall. This short story doesn’t end there. My rather large, strong friend discovered me on my way out of the meal hall, yelled at me for not going to the potluck, and proceeded to pick me up and carry me across campus to the room it was being held in.

There was a second potluck around christmas time – this time I was with my parents and had access to a stove. I happily made my sweet-and-sour meatballs, and managed to get a ride in to the party with a friend. Once getting there however, I discovered I was the only one who actually read that part of the invitation (through a facebook group) other than the hosts. I felt a little miffed, as I didn’t eat before coming and had known a potluck was supposed to happen.

We ended up going out for pizza after my friends devoured the three avaliable dishes.

Now I’ve been invited to another potluck, this one is for the Super Bowl, and I would love to attend, but I’m back on campus with no way of cooking and with no money to spend. I don’t want to impose and ask my parents for money, and I certainly don’t want to make a boor of myself by showing up without food. Unless they (the hosts) express a want of me there even if I’m unable to bring food, I doubt I’ll go at all.

Am I making the right call about not going at all?

Perhaps you are over thinking what you believe is appropriate potluck food.   My adult son attended a Super Bowl party where the guests were forbidden from bringing chips but encouraged to “get creative” about their potluck food choices.  Of the 40 or so guests there, not one person brought drinks which forced the hosts into an emergency trip to the grocery store.
When I host a large potluck, I always reserve the less expensive items for those not particularly financially well endowed.    Two and three-liter sodas go on sale for 99 cents in my neck of the woods and are a welcome addition to all informal potlucks.   Tea bags and a 1 pound of sugar to make sweetened iced tea is also an option.   Other inexpensive potluck items are deviled eggs, potato chips, most potato dishes, celery sticks with peanut butter, carrot sticks.   Readers?  Other suggestions?

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