Hosting a Hackathon: Whatever You Do, Don’t Forget the Office Snacks!

Posted by on Friday, January 17th, 2014 with Comments Off on Hosting a Hackathon: Whatever You Do, Don’t Forget the Office Snacks! Comments

A “hackathon” may sound like an illicit activity, but these all day (and occasionally all night) work sessions for computer programmers are soaring in popularity among tech companies. Hackathons put a premium on creativity and collaboration, allowing colleagues who might typically spend their time isolated before a computer screen to work together on projects. As Faceboook programmer and hackathon organizer Pedram Keyani shared with Fast Company, “[The] thing about hackathons is that the most critical rule is you can’t work on the same thing as your day job. It’s a way to experiment with ideas in a low-cost way.”

hackathon in office

Hackathons are intense, often all-night sessions of creative problem-solving.
Image source: flickr user LachlanHardy

A hackathon can take many forms and tackle all kinds of problems, but they usually have one thing in common: food is required! While tech companies like Google and Facebook are famous for providing catered meals or free lunches, a hackathon almost always involves a steady stream of office snacks and drinks to keep participants hyper-focused during their long work sessions.

What kind of food should you provide for a hackathon? Essentially, a lot of it! Ideally, hackathon participants will be expending mental energy at a very high rate for a long period of time, and food is crucial to keep them going.

snack table at a hackathon

Keep the energy flowing by providing plenty of snacks at all times!
Image source: flickr user MollyMcLeod

Snacks: Of course snacks are key, but think beyond the traditional potato chips and pretzels. Provide a few healthy hackathon options like granola bars, veggies, and whole-grain crackers for long-lasting energy — but you’ll also want plenty of candy for quick sugar highs late in the night, when energy will almost definitely be flagging. Also, don’t forget to make sure the snacks you provide are easy to eat while working. Peeling an orange will just lead to frustration and a sticky keyboard.

Beverages: To beer or not to beer? That is the question. Many hackathons feature a few brews, but that’s up to each company — and the level of confidence they have in their programmers to be effective while drinking. One or two beers in the office can be a nice treat, but any beyond that might lead to errors. Definitely provide bottled water, soda, coffee, and energy drinks!

Dinner: Most hackathons will encompass dinner. Take a cue from Facebook: Keyani also shared that their team orders Chinese food from the same restaurant at every hackathon; it’s a tradition that the team looks forward to. Pick a favorite restaurant and order in a big meal for everyone to share. Keep in mind that while you definitely want your team to be full and satisfied, you don’t want to order anything too heavy that might put them to sleep.

Breakfast: If you have a really intense hackathon that goes all through the night, don’t forget to provide an office breakfast! Go the lighter route with bagels and cream cheese and assorted cereals, or end the hackathon with a fully catered omelette bar for a special thank-you treat.

hackathon workers with snacks

Coffee and energy drinks are essential at hackathons.
Image source: flickr user HackNY

Providing good food and plenty of snacks is key to creating a fun, engaging environment that will inspire your employees to do their best work… and sign up for the next hackathon.

Best of all, you can simply allow to handle all the arrangements for your next hackathon. Easy online ordering and delivery makes it easy to stay focused on all of the fantastic work your team will be producing!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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