As Thanksgiving break begins at the University of Massachusetts, many students have packed their bags and headed home for the holidays. However, festivities will continue on campus.
On campus, UMass Dining, the International Programs Office and the apartment complexes are all working to provide a bit of Thanksgiving tradition for students remaining on campus and around Amherst.
UMass Fresh, described on their website as a combination of “the award winning culinary talent of UMass Dining with the best local/regional, healthy and sustainable ingredients in your kitchen,” works to provide fully cooked holiday meals that only need to be heated up on Thanksgiving Day.
The website continues, “Our goal is to make eating healthy, sustainable and delicious food, in the comfort of your home, as easy as possible.”
UMass Fresh, which also provides holiday meals around Christmas and the Super Bowl, will be accepting Thanksgiving meal orders until November 25 at 5 p.m. Each meal costs $120 and includes a variety of food, including turkey, stuffing, butternut squash and pie.
Also on campus, the International Programs Office is working to coordinate Thanksgiving meals for international students. The program, which has been functioning since 2007, seeks to match up families in the area with international students in a host dinner that provides for them a look into an authentic American Thanksgiving.
“The host families that do it are really kind of special people because they want to open their home, and either they have an international background or they travel a lot. They just want to provide a space and a nice meal for international students,” said Pamela Dutta, IPO associate director for international student and scholar success.
This year, about 32 students will be participating and there will be nine host families.
Dutta added that typically, families take at least two students and that the students are matched with families based on things like language or transportation. “Once I match them, I let the host family communicate directly with the students and let them make all the arrangements at that point. So, we’re just really as the facilitator and helping people know about the program,” she said.
Dutta explained that students in the past have given positive feedback about the initiative, and many of them keep relations with their host families, so she stated that she hopes to see the program grow in the future.
“I think the Thanksgiving tradition can look so differently and I just think it’s just such a nice opportunity on both sides for a host family to experience an international student and international student really getting an authentic Thanksgiving Day and what it looks differently in different families.”
Also on campus, the graduate apartment complexes are coordinating Thanksgiving meals for students that remain on campus for the holiday.
The North, North Village and Lincoln Apartments will all be hosting meals on or around Thanksgiving Day for its residents. This has been a tradition at the North Apartments since 2006, since 2013 for Lincoln and since 2014 for North Village.
Abed Jaradat, apartment communities coordinator, said that the meals will differ a bit in each community, as all have different goals and needs. “We try to do it based on the needs of students and their availabilities,” he said.
Emphasizing the importance of creating a space that feels like community, Jaradat continued, “we try to give them a home away from home…[we] try to give peace so they don’t feel isolated and ignored. We want them to feel included and that we pay attention [to them]…caring about our students is #1.”
He added the residential areas try to host similar events on every holiday throughout the year, not just Thanksgiving.
Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected] followed on Twitter @irinaacostache.