Giving Thanks

As a busy semester draws to close, Swarthmore students made sure to make time for one of the most important things in life: food.

On Thursday, Sharples Dining Hall hosted one of its most anticipated (and mouth-watering) meals of the year: Harvest Dinner. With serving lines stretching behind the door, the meal – previously known as “local foods night" – has quickly grown into a favorite among students. This year’s dinner featured locally-grown foods such as a broccoli and cauliflower medley from Sunny Harvest in Kirkwood, Pa., locally baked bread from Philadelphia, roasted chicken from Griggstown Farm in Princeton, N.J., and mashed sweet potatoes from Shady Acres Farm in Elizabethtown, Pa. Other items included pasta smothered with roasted local vegetables, locally made organic tofu with Thai butternut, homemade pumpkin pie, and locally pressed apple cider.

"Our annual Harvest Dinner is a perfect opportunity to highlight the many local and organic foods we serve in our four-week menu rotation," says Director of Dining Services Linda McDougall. "The excitement around this meal makes all our culinary staff's hard work and many hours of prep worthwhile."

Students certainly share the excitement and enthusiasm around the meal.

After finishing his shift driving vans for the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, Asher Wolf '18, from Oakland, Calif., dashed down the hill from the DuPont Parking Lot to Sharples before running back to watch a documentary for a physics class. “I had to make sure I got some of that awesome bread before Sharples closed!” he exclaimed.

“I wish every night was local foods night,” says Amanda Chan '16, a biology major and environmental studies minor from Moraga, Calif. She also expressed sadness that this would be the last Harvest Dinner of her Swarthmore career.

Later in the week, the Black Cultural Center (BCC) hosted its annual Thanksgiving feast. Every year, students spend hours cooking food, parents bring food from home, and the BCC orders a large turkey to combine into a vast cornucopia. This year, the BCC Thanksgiving featured Caribbean food, Ghanaian jolof rice and “gari fotor,” mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes, among many other foods. Over 100 people attended.

"For me, the BCC is family. It’s home," says A’Dorian Murray-Thomas '16, co-president of the Swarthmore African-American Student Society (SASS) and a political science and education studies major from Newark, N.J. “It’s one of the most important communities that I belong to on this campus. So to be able to do something that you usually do with the family you grew up with at your home away from home is really beautiful.”

Murray-Thomas and Tyrone Clay '18, the other co-president of SASS, also see this as a great way to show the BCC to people who don’t normally come to that space. After getting food, students can socialize or go upstairs and watch football. There’s no planned event other than eating.

Clay, a native of New Orleans, La., says much of the importance of the event for him stems from the fact that it is a time when a lot of students can get together and let loose.

“It’s just nice to stop doing all of the things you need to be doing," agrees Murray-Thomas, "and putting on hold all of your papers, all of your homework, for what really matters. Sometimes what really matters is just coming together.”

Harvest Night and the BCC Thanksgiving are just two of the College’s many Thanksgiving traditions. Another is the meal hosted by Public Safety and the Office of Student Engagement to thank the College's resident assistants, a group of students with whom they work closely. This year's meal, which took place in Kohlberg's Scheuer Room, included traditional holiday foods such as turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, as well as a game of Quizzo run by Associate Dean of Students Nathan Miller.

On Thanksgiving Day for the 24th consecutive year, Dining Services plans to serve Thanksgiving dinner in Sharples Dining Hall to students staying on campus. As in years past, the Dean’s Office will also arrange for a local family to host international students, allowing them to experience a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.