Many students look forward to Thanksgiving break as a time to rest at home before they push through finals. But for those who don’t leave, the university is offering the comforts of home on campus.
The 19th annual Thanksgiving Dinner will be Thursday in the Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom in the Ohio Union. Officials will offer two meals, at noon and 2:15 p.m., and expect to serve 2,000 guests.
The campus Thanksgiving Dinner began 19 years ago in The Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center when students asked for a potluck dinner because they couldn’t go home for the holiday, said Larry Williamson, director of the center and one of the founders of the annual feast.
“We got 25 people at the drop of a hat,” he said.
The dinner grew steadily each year and eventually was too big for the Hale Center, he said. That’s when the Office of International Relations stepped in to help organize the event. The first year of the collaboration, the amount of guests doubled, from 300 to 600 people.
The meal is the largest free Thanksgiving gathering on any college campus, Williamson said.
This year, there will be 1,680 pounds of turkey (120 turkeys), 115 pounds of bread for stuffing, 432 pounds of green beans, corn and greens, 1,026 pounds of sweet potatoes, 3,056 pounds of cranberry relish, 320 pounds of baked cornbread and 180 pies, said Maureen Miller, director of communications at the Office of International Affairs.
Leftovers will go to local churches, said Amanda Friesel, a co-chair of the event and third-year in human development and family science.
Friesel said US Foodservice is donating the food, and about 150 volunteers will help cook, clean and organize the meals.
One of those is Darry Andrews, who has been volunteering since 2004 with his wife, daughter and son. Andrews, who is the director of the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center, will work as a server this year. Students he knows are surprised to see him there, he said.
“Students who can’t go home should have a nice dinner,” he said. “In the future, I think I’d like to invite a few to my home for Thanksgiving.”
Tickets to the meals are free and still available. They can be picked up at the Ohio Union, the Hale Center and Oxley Hall. Although students are encouraged to get tickets, organizers will make arrangements for any who come empty-handed.
“Our concept is that no student should be alone this day,” Williamson said. “No student will be turned away.”