On campus for Thanksgiving? The annual Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner welcomes you

November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving: A time when most Spartans are involved in a mass exodus from campus, rushing home to a warm meal with their families. 

Some students at Michigan State, however, don’t have the option of going home during the last week of November. The fact that most businesses in the United States close their doors on Thanksgiving and give employees the day off can make it exceedingly difficult for students who are left on their own to find a place to eat or gather.

For Spartans who are unsure of where—or even how—to celebrate this traditional American food fest, there is the 13th Annual Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner. This year, the dinner will be held from 2 – 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 26, 2015, in the Brody Neighborhood classrooms, 241 W. Brody Road, East Lansing, Mich. All are welcome to enjoy a warm meal and holiday music with friends, completely free of charge, courtesy of the Office of Cultural and Academic Affairs (OCAT), Cru (Culturas de las Razas Unidas, the Latino student organization), Residence Education and Housing Services, Residential and Hospitality Services, the Neighborhoods, local businesses, and other campus organizations.

Members of the Spartan community explore the food selection at the 2014 Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner.

Members of the Spartan community explore the food selection at the 2014 Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner.

Denise Cruz, a senior from Mission, Texas who has attended the dinner throughout her undergraduate career, said it would have been tough to not have anywhere else to go for the holiday. 

“I’m really grateful for everyone who took part in creating this event,” Cruz said. “The atmosphere is so welcoming and it really feels like you’re sitting down to share a meal with family.”

The tradition of the Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner dates far back to 2003, when OCAT Coordinator Juan Flores was an undergraduate at MSU.

Flores recalled that he and his friends were among the group of students left on campus during Thanksgiving when they decided to team up and host a dinner for those in similar situations. According to Flores, the turnout was greater than anything they had expected. They recognized a need for donations and expansion.

Since that first dinner, initially called “Homies-giving,” Flores says the program has grown significantly and has started receiving more donations from the community in addition to gaining support and leadership from campus officials.

“My favorite part of this is seeing all of the students eating together and making friends,” Flores said. “We’re really providing a place to build community and have a delicious meal when everything else is closed down.” 

This year’s dinner will feature an array of food, including brisket and ham donated by Lansing’s King of the Grill, and sliced turkey breast from Bob Evans. Also, a new addition to the table will be noodles and chicken from Golden Wok of East Lansing. Flores said he hopes that including a more diverse food selection will make all members of the MSU community feel welcome as well as provide a learning opportunity for students as they sample food from other parts of the world. 

If you find yourself looking for a delicious dinner with friends this November 26, join in the Thanksgiving Fellowship celebration at Brody Neighborhood to kick off the holiday season!

2015 Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner sponsors include: OCAT, Cru (Culturas de las Razas Unidas, the Latino student organization), Residence Education and Housing Services, Residential and Hospitality Services, MSU Culinary Services, Migrant Student Services, Neighborhoods, King of the Grill, and Bob Evans.

The Thanksgiving Fellowship Dinner is always accepting donations and new volunteers to help with distributing food. For more information about the dinner, or if you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Juan Flores at floresj2@vps.msu.edu or call 517-353-9590.

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