Is there any other profession that routinely asks for sponsors to give them beer and pizza money? Can we picture lawyers, doctors or other engineers doing this?
I don't understand why software folks do this. Every damned meetup and hackathon does it. Sometimes we get real fancy and have Subway cater the event.
We can't increase diversity by putting off such a frat house vibe, nor can we market ourselves as competent, highly-paid professionals when we can be so cheaply bribed.
So what should we do about it?
If you're running a meetup, either stop providing food or ask sponsors for enough cash to afford better snacks. Sponsors can get much better publicity from providing good food; those that have catering for their lunches could have them make extra for the evening's event and get an opportunity to brag about their perks.
As an attendee, ask your meetup organizers and sponsors to get us better food.