I think most businesses put on both a picnic and a holiday party as a sign of employee appreciation. This was my third picnic with this company and for the first time, it wasn't catered. The staple barbecue foods were provided, and cooked by members of management. But I (as someone who doesn't eat beef or pork) had to bring my own meat. I did. And I brought enough to share.
I thought the picnic was nice. I had a good time and got to talk to people I normally wouldn't. I didn't mind bringing food, because I understood the situation. In tough economic times, it's difficult to set money aside for fun. If bringing a box full of wings means we can keep out stellar holiday party, then so be it. But I know a lot of people had gotten used to the catering, and they didn't come out at all. And that just left more wings for me.