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I feel very blessed to work for a company that has multiple forms of complimentary food offered. There is usually a candy bowl or Costco sized pretzel bin at the receptionist's desk, coffee K-cups in the kitchen, and an assortment of ice cream in the freezer. The company buys staff (maybe 60ish employees) lunch on a Friday once every other month.

I usually bring my lunch to work, and I have a mini-coffee maker under my desk (it only makes 5 cups). I will have company coffee on days when I don't feel like brewing my own, and I will have ice cream maybe twice a week. I engage in pretzels and candy maybe twice a day, nothing absurd though, a few here and there.

There is a coffee collection next to the Keurig, and and ice cream collection near the freezer. I toss in $5 once in a while.

I feel guilty though. I don't really have any spare money to toss into the collection than I'm already contributing (kids, wife, life, etc.). And on occasion I bring in candy to refill the candy bowl so I can contribute that way too.

Should I be self-conscious about this? I feel I contribute enough (money and donations), and I rely on my own coffee and food most of the time. I say "thank you" to management and the people involved in providing the free goodies, but I still feel like I'm getting away with robbery because I feel like what I take/eat is worth more than the amount I'm putting in.

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    Is the company buying the food and allowing employees to subsidize that? Or is someone paying for it out of their own pocket, with donations helping out? – thursdaysgeek May 29 at 20:28
  • Both. But for the ice cream and coffee it's mostly donations and one guy collects all the donations and then goes and buys in bulk using the donation money. I'm not sure if he pays anything out of pocket. I've never asked. – MacItaly May 29 at 20:30
  • Are you sure the collection bin is optional? Seems strange to purchase food for employees and then collect money for that food. It’s either free or the food actually costs money (seems strange to be somewhere in the middle) – Donald May 30 at 1:06
  • Many times the food is an added perk to keep employees happy without having to raise their salaries. – さりげない告白 May 30 at 1:53
  • If you are taking advantage of the perk, people will eventually notice and people will talk. Do you want this reputation? A co-worker of mine had a big candy jar (to share). A few people took advantage when they thought nobody was looking. We knew. – Mattman944 May 30 at 2:42
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A lot of it depends on who is buying the complimentary food.

If the company is buying, then it is often because they want happy employees who don't feel the need to be away from their desks a long time while getting snacks. It's a business expense that they feel benefits them as well as the employees. In that case, it's fine to snack whenever you wish, but it is rude to take so much that there isn't enough for others, nor should you take extras home or stash it at your desk. (Yes, some people will do that.)

If it is an individual that is buying, your use does not seem excessive at all. But it might be good to talk to the guy collecting the donations and buying the food, to see if he feels he's getting enough donations. If he complains about providing the goodies, then you might pitch in a dollar or two more, or snack just a bit less. If he's happy with how things are going, then you're fine. But don't feel guilty if he does complain - if it's something he's chosen to do, it's not your responsibility to do more than your share either. Just make sure you're not taking advantage of him.

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