With Thanksgiving around the corner, the dining halls will be closed for the break. Many international students, out-of-state students and students who work over the break in Athens cannot afford to go back home.
Ohio University Culinary services prorates meal swipes in any week which has less than seven days. The cost of this is adjusted into meal plan rates students pay at the beginning of the semester.
The last meal that will be served in Nelson Dining Hall will be lunch on Tuesday, November 21. Dining halls will reopen for dinner on Sunday, November 27.
Students on Flex and Standard 20 meal plans will have seven meal swipes. Students on Flex and Standard 14 meal plans will have five meal swipes and students on Standard 10 will have four meal swipes to use between Sunday to Tuesday. Students will be sent reminders via email about meal swipe prorations.
Grace Farrell, a senior resident advisor in the Shively-Tiffin complex, will work on campus over Thanksgiving break.
“I have to figure out ways to go get food on my own, which then costs money and it's kind of frustrating because then I don't have any money to spend later on in the break,” said Farrell.
Farrel is on the Flex 14 meal plan, so she could use any left-over swipes to buy groceries at the campus markets to stock up for the break.
Frank Pazzanese, executive director for culinary services at OU, said when culinary services previously hosted a Thanksgiving meal, student participation was not strong.
“The hardest part is to find the ability to find the right size operation to open … there weren't enough students that participated in a Thanksgiving meal or other meals in that time period to bring staff in,” said Pazzanese.
Pazzanese said he understands food insecurity is a challenge for many college students, he also said he knows getting access to food in Athens can be even harder. This is due to restaurants closing uptown, limiting options within walking distance.
Pazzanese wants to encourage students to join the culinary services development committee, or CSDC, to share ideas and in a conducive space to resolve such issues.
Thom Stevenson, associate professor of instruction in the Patton College of Education, said this will be the third year organizing a Thanksgiving meal for students, faculty and Athens locals.
‘Home Away From Home’ is an event specifically curated for international students to experience a Thanksgiving meal in a true fashion. The meal will be hosted on Wednesday, Nov. 22 this year from noon to 2 p.m., and exists due to a partnership between the Patton College of Education and University College.
Students enrolled in Introduction to Food Preparation help select the recipes and design the overall meal experience. They incorporate a traditional Thanksgiving menu keeping in religious beliefs and dietary restrictions, especially when serving a diverse group.
Stevenson said this is not his only project for the community. He believes food is an important connector and many people experience food insecurity at different stages of their lives.
“I wanted to create an event that allowed us to be creative and allowed students to fully participate so that they understand how important food is in our life,” said Stevenson. “I wanted an event where we can all grow together.”
Every year, the number of attendees at the Home Away From Home lunch has grown. In 2020, about 40 guests attended, while in the following year, 70 guests enjoyed carefully hand-crafted meals.
“It's really special to see the array of cultures and array of age groups and array of majors all working together to create what is this meal experience that, some of us sometimes take for granted,” said Stevenson
This year, Professor Stevenson expects 140 students, faculty and locals to register, this also includes 40 to-go boxes that can be picked up. Those who wish to attend can register here.