Season of Gratitude

As the first snowfall marks the final days of the fall season, Swarthmore is taking the end of November to celebrate its community through several dinners, gatherings, and festivities.

Sharples Dining Hall was one of the first spaces on campus to gather the community through the annual Fall Harvest Dinner. Held last Thursday, this dinner showcased locally sourced and sustainably grown food from Dining Services.

While Sharples provides many of these foods on a daily basis, the dinner placed a spotlight on these foods through a seasonal celebration. They named foods after some of the local distributors and had a table with fresh apple cider from nearby Beechwood Orchards. Sharples staff also livened up the dining area with festive lights, decorations, and music.

Isabel Llosa ’20, an environmental studies major from New York, N.Y., helped design some of the blackboards for the dinner that featured local food vendors. She notes how the Harvest Dinner brought excitement throughout campus while also serving as a platform to communicate the types of sustainable food students eat on a daily basis.

“I think it’s a really great way for students to reconnect with Sharples food,” says Llosa, also a President’s Sustainability Research Fellow who works with Dining Services to promote food sustainability. “It’s a really popular tradition among students and the food is always delicious and the decorations are so festive.”

Yet, the annual harvest dinner was only the beginning of good food and community celebrations on Swarthmore’s campus. Several affinity groups have also used the fall season as a chance to gather and show gratitude for one another.

Among them is the Swarthmore African American Student Society (SASS), which hosted their annual Feast of Thanks dinner this past Sunday, including a traditional fall meal cooked by students.

Jay Smack ‘19, a gender and sexuality studies special major from Millsboro, Del., and co-president of SASS, shared how the event was successful in helping students relieve stress and have fun by making time for one another.

“The Fall Feast is important to SASS because it is an opportunity for our entire campus to come to the BCC [Black Cultural Center] and gather as a community,” says Smack. “The food is prepared by students and we really have to work together to make sure everything runs smoothly. By cooking this annual meal together, we grow closer and make memories that last a lifetime.”

Another group hosting a dinner on campus is the Questbridge Scholars, a community of students from low-income backgrounds. They will be hosting a Thanksgiving this Wednesday known as "Questgiving" for their scholars who will not be returning home over the break.

For these students and others staying on campus during Thanksgiving weekend, though, there are still fall festivities and opportunities to enjoy. Eight members of Sharples staff will devote part of their Thanksgiving day to preparing a traditional meal for students who are still on campus. The First Generation and Low Income student program will also be sponsoring an ice skating trip for students.

Finally, Swarthmore is doing more than showing gratitude within its own community; it is also using the holiday as an opportunity to promote wellness and give back beyond the confines of campus.

On Monday, the Department of Athletics and Physical Education hosted the annual Turkey Trot, in which 20 community members walked almost two miles around the Clothier Stadium track. While the event promoted fitness, it was also a commitment to service as attendees brought almost 200 pounds of food items to be donated to the Media Food Bank.

The event included music and a raffle for items like FitBits and Swat gear. Izzy the Therapy Dog was among the participants, as was Assistant Director of Athletics for Recreation and Wellness Max Miller, dressed in a turkey suit.

“I think it was a great event with awesome weather,” says Miller, who organized the event. “Great to see the Swarthmore community come out and support each other, but also the Media Food bank.”

As the season of gratitude continues, Swarthmore groups and organizations continue to demonstrate what it means to come together and give thanks, both for one another and for the community as a whole.