Free Office Lunch: The Benefits and Negatives

Who doesn’t love free food? And free food at work – even better! A free office lunch is definitely a huge perk in the eyes of many employees but what are the actual benefits and are there any negative aspects of receiving or offering a free company lunch?

We’ll take an in-depth look at free lunch in the office and what it means for companies and employees, as well which companies offer their employees lunch.

In this article, we’ll look at: 

Companies That Offer Free Office Lunch

While tech companies, especially those in Silicon Valley, are best known for their wide-ranging perks, including free food at work, they aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the benefits that a free lunch offers.

Here are some companies that offer their employees a free lunch – some you might expect and some you might not.

1. Pixar
benefits of free office lunch

Free office lunch at Pixar is a long-standing tradition. In fact, when Steve Jobs introduced the idea of free lunch for employees during his redesign of Pixar’s headquarters in 1999, it was a new and innovative concept. This concept has since become a growing trend that has been adopted by many companies worldwide.

At Pixar, free lunch looks more like fine-dining than cafeteria food – no boxed-lunches here! Employees receive meals like steak, wood-fire pizza and salmon.

2. Google

Google was one of the first tech giants to start offering a  free office lunch at work. Today, Google continues to offer free lunch, free drinks and free snacks for their employees throughout the day, in addition to other benefits including free haircuts, entertainment, gym access and laundry facilities.

3. SAP
companies that have free office lunch

SAP, a software company from Germany, provides their employees with many benefits, including free lunch. Different offices provide different lunch options from catering or an in-house cafeteria including a salad bar and salmon.

4. CoverMyMeds
free office lunch pros

CoverMyMeds is a healthcare technology company with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. They provide free lunch, drinks and snacks to their employees in the office, with the help of an in-house chef who provides healthy lunch options.

5. Panda Express

Just when you were thinking tech companies and corporate employees at company headquarters were the only ones receiving perks like a free office lunch – Panda Express demonstrates how other industries and positions within an organization can benefit from this. Part of the hospitality and restaurant industry, Panda Express employees receive a free lunch during their lunch break and can select anything off of the menu to eat at no cost.

Benefits of Free Lunch in the Office

There are many benefits to providing employees with free food. In fact, the benefits outweigh the negatives for many companies which is why free food in the office is a popular perk at work!

Here are some benefits for the company:

  • Happier employees – this is great for the employees themselves but it’s also a huge benefit for organizations, as happy workers are good workers! This also boosts morale, resulting is less turnover and greater company loyalty and a huge cost savings because of it.
  • Healthier employees – happy employees are typically healthier employees. However, in addition to that, a company’s ability to provide healthy options in their free office lunch for their employees can ensure good health even further. Healthy employees will be better workers and can save companies on costs associated with medical care and downtime.
  • Productivity – according to conferencing company Highfive, a typical off-site lunch for an employee is approximately an hour long. On the other hand, on-site lunches take only about half an hour. This means that employees are working for thirty more minutes each day when provided with lunch in the office!
  • Communication – if coworkers can build trust and relationships by conversing over a meal from the company, their communication will undoubtedly improve. This is a huge benefit for employers, as communication is the key to efficiency in many industries, particularly knowledge-based industries. Open communication is also a contributing factor to an awesome company culture. 
  • Creativity and collaboration – keeping employees in the office during lunch hour means they are more likely to interact with one another. Interactions between employees from different teams can foster creativity when ideas and knowledge are shared – and what a better place to share than over food!
  • Competitive advantage – the best employees want to work for the best companies and good perks play a huge role. In order to attract top talent, employers need to consider different ways to attract these employees and what better way than with free food! This also helps to promote a good company culture which, in turn, provides a competitive advantage.

Negatives of Free Food

Although you might be thinking – how could there be any negatives to a free lunch, there are some cons that come along with providing free food to employees.

  • Cost – providing food and drinks to your team, depending on the size of the company, can really add up! In fact, Google is said to spend approximately $150 million each year on free food for its employees.
  • Health – free food can lead to over-eating and unhealthy eating, especially if the food that is provided is not a healthy option. Companies need to be careful that they provide healthy options so that their employees are not consuming unhealthy food absent-mindedly or just because it’s there and it’s free. Free food for employees can be negative if it results in unhealthy eating that leads to heath concerns or lethargy.

Key Takeaways on a Free Office Lunch

Looking for a job where free lunch is on the table? Typically tech companies like Google, SAP and CoverMyMeds are the ones to provide food to their employees. However, other forward-thinking organizations, like Panda Express, that realize the benefit of a free lunch, have also started to offer their employees food free of charge.

Before deciding whether or not to provide your employees with a free lunch, drinks and snacks here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Free food means happier and healthier employees.
  • Translates in better productivity from employees.
  • Fosters communication within and between teams of the company.
  • Communication leads to improved creativity and collaboration.
  • Perks like a free lunch contribute to the company’s competitive advantage when recruiting.


  • Providing free food to all of your employees can be very costly.
  • Unhealthy options can lead to unhealthy employees.

Whether you’re an employee looking for a free lunch from your employer or a business deciding whether offering free food is worth-while, take some time to consider the benefits and the negative aspects of this perk. Overall, it appears that companies who currently offer free lunch reap a host of positive benefits.

Written By Vincent Lee

The Managing Editor at Advesa, Vincent is a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, a lover of cats, and a purveyor of fine roasted matcha teas. When not writing, he enjoys exercising and biking around his beautiful hometown of Vancouver. He is also a strong supporter of the oxford comma.