Wednesday, September 15, 2010


On Wednesdays, I have two free lunches, one after another. The first is associated with Penn Language and Communication IGERT program. The second is called Splunch, for speech and phonetics lunch, hosted by the phonetics lab.

At football games, Penn undergrads throw slices of toast onto the field. It's a tradition that started after alcohol was banned in the football field. During the fight song (or the school song, or some song like that), there's a line that goes "Here's a toast, to dear old Ben[jamin Franklin]".  The engineering department has actually designed a toast zamboni to clean up all the toast from the field.

What ties these two thoughts together is that there is a group of students who want to end the Toast Toss.  I read some of their flyers today, which included some statistics on poverty and hunger in Philadelphia. The line that caught my eye said "What does the Toast Toss mean about Penn?" I'm struck by the fact that I had never reflected on how frivolously throwing bread around, or receiving two free lunches in one day might seem to a chronically poor and hungry person living in my own city.


  1. Receiving even one free lunch in a day seems the height of decadence, even to a student or an academic in the UK, never mind someone actually living in poverty! (We do have the stereotype of 'poor student', which doesn't apply quite as much in the US, but I'm talking about _really_ poor people here.) I used to read PHD Comic before I went to the States, and couldn't understand the students-can-live-on-free-food running joke in it until I got to the States: that's just unkown here. Study groups take place at non-lunch times and don't involve food; if there ever is free food, it's an occasion for rejoicing; and my colleagues smiled wistfully when I told them about the 'party budget' that Penn professors can apparently call on to give pizza to each of their classes once a semester!

    Just sayin' ...

  2. there was an editorial response to this story where it was explained that whatever organization runs the toast toss donates $500 to a local soup kitchen per game to more than offset this symbolic waste.

    what's next, a campaign against pouring out for your homies who din't make it?


Disqus for Val Systems