Here's the math: Googlers in the U.S. get two meals a day free, according to the jobs page, but people we talk to at the Mountain View Googleplex tell us employees there are often chowing down three times a day. Google is open 251 days a year. So let's say that Google is providing about 600 meals per year, per employee.
By its own count, Google has about 8,000 workers at the Googleplex in Mountain View, and another 700 at the office on Ninth Ave. in New York City. Buying DoubleClick netted Google 900 more U.S. employees (after laying off 300). So that's a total of about 9,600 employees in Mountain View, New York, and from DoubleClick.
The rest of Google's American employees get fed, but Google doesn't break down employment for its other offices. Internationally, benefits vary -- employees in Australia get a free lunch, whereas employees in Ireland get a fully subsidized canteen.
Cost per employee? San Jose-based caterer Abe Caterman (really!) guesses it would cost Google about $15 per day, per employee, for breakfast and lunch. But Prentiss Hall, a helpful exec at Aramark Business Dining Services, thinks Google could be spending closer to $30 a day, based on the quality and level of service the company provides.*
So we multiplied the $30/day by the 9,600 employees in Mountain View and New York by the 251 days Google is open every year. Remember that Google probably spends a lot more than this, because there are employees outside those offices, and because visitors are there all the time eating. (One friend at Google tells us that a number of Mozilla employees treat the cafeteria as their own.)