Annual Campus Thanksgiving Day Unity Dinner Welcomes All

November 15, 2017
  • Free Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23) dinner for students staying on campus.
  • Walk-ins are welcome, without reservations.
  • Entertainment including music, games, and prizes will be offered for kids of all ages.

If you find yourself having to stay on campus this year for Thanksgiving Break and you want a tasty—and free—meal as well as the company of your fellow Spartans, come to the 15th Annual Thanksgiving Day Unity Dinner. This longtime campus tradition will be held on Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 23, 2017) from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Brody Hall classrooms.

Story continues after photo.

Vidi Aziz (in gray cardigan, red flannel shirt, and glasses) volunteered for his first Thanksgiving Day Unity Dinner in 2015. Juan Flores appears on right in green shirt.

Vidi Aziz (in gray cardigan, red flannel shirt, and glasses) volunteered for his first Thanksgiving Day Unity Dinner in 2015. Juan Flores appears on right in green shirt.

A variety of food will be offered from local restaurants (see list below), but the fun doesn’t stop with delicious local food:  There will be games, prizes, skits, and a DJ to play music while people gather to share their meal. Leftovers, if there are any, are donated to local homeless shelters.

“Having been a low-income, MSU work-study student 15 years ago, I know firsthand how beneficial this meal is,” said Juan Flores, co-founder and longtime organizer of the Thanksgiving dinner and a coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions (OCAT) in Student Affairs and Services. “So I am excited that we are again hosting the dinner on Thanksgiving Day.”

Thousands of students have benefitted from this annual tradition over the years, including international students, people who have to work or study in East Lansing, and others who are unable to go home for the break. Last year there were more than 400 diners, coming from a variety of different colleges and backgrounds.

Flores emphasized that one goal of the Thanksgiving Day Unity Dinner is to celebrate different cultures, while providing a delicious meal and fun entertainment for the students who find themselves staying on campus for the holiday break.

Vidi Aziz, a senior psychology major from Surakarta, Indonesia, started volunteering for the dinner in 2015.

“I couldn’t go home on Thanksgiving,” he said, “so I was looking for some activities because I was bored and a lot of places were closed on campus. I found a flyer for this event and signed up to volunteer.”

Aziz said he has made many friends through volunteering at this event, and together they have come back every year to continue the tradition of serving food and joining in the festivities on on Thanksgiving.

“The Thanksgiving dinner creates a community for people who don’t have places to go on Thanksgiving,” he shared. “For those who stay on campus during break, seeing half the students gone makes the campus lonely, and this event keeps people from being alone in their dorms.”

Flores added that organizers are looking for student performers and volunteers to help serve, and he encouraged people to preregister for the dinner by November 22: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfJ_DlFgIgiQ0Rh8T7Gln9DrKsA73fRnLmhC7IXmoFTq_luug/viewform. For more information about the Thanksgiving Day Unity Dinner, contact Juan Flores at floresj2@msu.edu or Rochelle Rivera at rivera33@msu.edu.

The full list of local establishments from which food will be provided is Bob Evans, King of the Grill, MSU Culinary Services, No Thai!, Don Panchos, Turkey Man, Woody’s Oasis, Eastside Fish Fry. Sponsors are the Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions (OCAT), Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs & Services. Migrant Student Services, Culturas de las Razas Unida, Residential and Hospitality Services, Julian Samora Research Institute, College of Social Work, East Lansing Rotary Club, Office of International Students & Scholars, Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative, Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc., and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

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