Students unable to go home for Thanksgiving this year can enjoy a traditional holiday meal on campus.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Transfer Student Representative’s office and Academics On The Hill is hosting a Thanksgiving On The Hill program Wednesday through Saturday. Students can participate in different activities each day, including a Thanksgiving dinner and a volunteer opportunity at a local homeless shelter.
USAC Transfer Student Representative Sayron Stokes said the four-day event aims to provide free food and a shared space for students who cannot afford to go home. It will also be an opportunity for off-campus students to access free food, Stokes said.
“Many students cannot afford to go home, or don’t have a home to go to for the holidays,” she said. “So, what I wanted to do is provide a nice Thanksgiving dinner for them, while allowing them to connect with other students who will be here around the holiday.”
Idriss Njike, the assistant director of UCLA Residential Life, said Residential Life and Academics On The Hill have hosted Thanksgiving events in past, but this is the first time they are collaborating with USAC.
Stokes said her own experience as an out-of-state transfer student from New York encouraged her to collaborate with Academics On The Hill for the event.
“As a first-year transfer student last year living on the Hill, it was hard to stay here and watch everyone go home to their families,” Stokes said. “I hope this event helps students who may be feeling similar this year.”
Njike said that, in addition to the festivities taking place on the Hill, two faculty members in Residential Life’s Faculty-in-Residence program have invited students to spend Thanksgiving in their homes.
Stokes said many students without a meal plan cannot afford to buy food and she hopes the event will provide a safety net for students who do not have easy access to food.
“A lot of (off-campus students) are going through food disparities,” she said. “I am realizing that more this year as opposed to last year, when I had the luxury of a meal plan while living on the Hill.”
Several students said they plan to attend the Thanksgiving events because of the free food and opportunity to spend the holiday with others.
Maggie Gallagher, a fourth-year art history and anthropology student, said she thinks the events are easily accessible because they will be held on the Hill.
“As an off-campus student, (worrying about) getting enough to eat can often be a source of anxiety because of the money and time it takes to acquire food,” she said.
Will Taylor, a fourth-year African American Studies student, said he thinks the events will help address food accessibility by providing free food.
“Food insecurity is a real issue for off-campus, out-of-state students like myself,” he said. “This initiative brought on by (Stokes) is a great idea, as students like me who are not able to go back home during the break will have a community to share food and a good time with.”
Stokes said she hopes the Transfer Student Representative’s office works with Residential Life and Academics On The Hill to continue to host Thanksgiving On The Hill in the future.
“I want Bruins to always know that they have options for the Thanksgiving holiday break,” she said. “There is no reason why anyone should be alone for Thanksgiving when they have a whole Bruin family here that they can meet and build new friendships with.”