July 20, 2019 | 78° F

Rutgers dining halls bring Thanksgiving to campus early

Photo by Courtesy of Sharon Yang |

Even though a majority of University operations close during Thanksgiving, Dining Halls offer a Thanksgiving dinner the week prior. Additionally, The Rutgers Club hosts a two-day pre-Thanksgiving luncheon buffet on Nov. 15 and 16, costing students $16.

For many students, Thanksgiving is the time of the year where they return home to warm houses and feast on delicious meals and decompress from the fall semester. But Rutgers Dining Services aims to bring the holiday spirit to campus slightly earlier, with Rutgers Thanksgiving celebration. 

Although the dining halls are closed on Thanksgiving, they do provide a Thanksgiving celebration every year. This year, on Nov. 16, dining halls offered the classic Thanksgiving meal – turkey, trimmings and everything in between. 

Christine Panagotopulos, a Rutgers Business School junior, attended Rutgers Thanksgiving as a first-year in 2015, she said. 

“As much as I can remember, it was a really cool spread, the dining hall was decorated all over with cool fall-themed stuff and they had a lot of extra food,” she said.

Panagotopulos said the food was better than the usual dining hall food. 

Franco Guevara, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said he attended Rutgers Thanksgiving this past Thursday at Brower Commons. 

He said there was an increase of students on this day compared to normal days, which he said was heartwarming because students were coming to celebrate with their friends. 

"It was incredible, the moment you walk in, it's a whole new vibe, I felt like I was back at home with my family. I really enjoyed the way they decorated, the music was also different, and the ice sculptures (were) also a very nice aesthetic. I really loved it, it felt like I was somewhere else," he said. 

Guevara agreed with Panagotopulos that the food was a better quality than the normal selection. He said that although the event made him excited to go home for Thanksgiving, he also enjoyed being able to celebrate it with his friends. 

"The food was amazing, I've never seen so many people get a plate filled with so much food. I was truly stuffed by the end of the night," he said. "I feel like this day is important because it certainly brought my friends all together to enjoy dinner, and it helped us forget the daily struggles of being a college student, and just to live in the moment."

In addition to the dining halls hosting their own Thanksgiving feast, The Rutgers Club hosted a two-day pre-Thanksgiving luncheon buffet on Nov. 15 and 16. The event description reads, “Can’t wait another week for Thanksgiving? We’ll get your festivities off to an early start with turkey and all the trimmings.” Although the Rutgers dining hall Thanksgiving is free, the club's event is $16. 

Panagotopulos said Rutgers Thanksgiving festivities are important because they bring the student body together.

“I think it’s important for students because it brings us all together. Even if the celebration is just something little like a different menu for one day, I think that makes a difference for people,” she said. “I definitely saw a huge turnout for the Thanksgiving dinner, way more than the amount of people who usually are in the dining halls.” 

In addition to food services, Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) held a "Friendsgiving" on Nov. 17 in Trayes Hall in the Douglass Student Center. The event aimed to bring together domestic and international students for a night of free traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, according to its website.

According to the University academic calendar, Rutgers is closed from Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. until Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving. The dining halls and recreation centers will also be closed for the holiday.

Although Panagotopulos has not had a meal plan since her first year at Rutgers, she said she misses events like the Thanksgiving dinner. 

“I haven’t had a meal plan since my freshman year so I haven’t gone since then, but if there is one thing I miss about having a meal plan at Rutgers, it would be the special dinners like Thanksgiving, late night breakfast, (and) King Neptune Night,” she said. 

Chloe Dopico

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