I seem to have been attending a lot of meetings lately, both in for-profit and nonprofit settings. That's given me a chance, while I wait for people to file in, to notice that it's often the meetings where the announcement contained the magical word "food" that draw the most attendees.
That's hardly a headline-worthy revelation -- but then why are some organizers still missing their chance at a little bribery? Particularly when the weather is getting better and motivation to sit around inside is going way, way down?
Maybe bribery is too harsh a word -- anthropologists can give us plenty of examples where the first words out of a host, even when greeting a stranger, concern whether the person would like some food. It's a primal welcoming thing.
Anyway, if the reasons are budgetary, that doesn't seem like much of a barrier. No one needs to promise a hot gourmet meal, just some snacks. In fact, two or three people planning to come (board members or other volunteers, for example) can be asked to bring those snacks. Some cookies, fruit slices, nuts, and cheese and crackers will not break anyone's budgets.