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Themed meals in dining halls make dinner educational

Some of the dining halls’ themed dinners, like the one held by the Black Student Movement in honor of Black History Month, are designed to fill the mind as well as the stomach.

“One thing that we really want people to understand about these theme meals is that they are more than just a special meal,” said Brandon Thomas, a spokesperson for CDS. “They can be a real opportunity to educate students and, also, create a sense of community.”

Jeremy Mckellar, the president of BSM, said he agrees these dinners are a way to bring the community together.

“For us at BSM, we are trying to promote our culture and expose it to our greater Carolina community, and there is no better way to do that than through food,” he said.

“We always like going through CDS, working with them and putting together a theme dinner that is centered in our culture but relates to everybody. This year we did a soul food theme dinner which is based in Southern culture — not just black culture.”

Mckellar said in working with CDS, BSM was able to bring many of their own ideas to the table and have them implemented.

“They are usually pretty helpful in helping us plan how we want the dinner to be in terms of what we contextualize and what type of education we want to bring to the event in terms of sharing our stories through black history,” Mckellar said.

“They helped us share knowledge about soul food and how it has brought us together on consistent bases through our culture. They really helped us make this a learning experience for the Carolina community while being mindful of disrespecting cultures and really figuring out the best way to deliver food to our campus without it being disrespectful.”

Mckellar said the campus is more diverse than many students realize and he would encourage groups focusing on diversity to include theme dinners in their calendars, if they are not doing so already.

“All it takes is a student organization reaching out and letting us know what the event is, what it represents and what kind of meal you think might be appropriate for it,” Thomas said. “We are always open to working with student organizations. The one thing we require is a commitment from them that they will actively be involved in engaging other students and helping to promote it.”

Not all of the themed dinners are planned by student organizations. Many of the events are planned by CDS to bring students together.

“There is often a lot more than just eating going on,” Thomas said. “We have trivia games and giveaways and prizes.”

Isabella Zuco, a sophomore biology major, said she attended a theme meal with a friend.

“They had fried food like hushpuppies and funnel cakes,” she said. “They had games set up everywhere for people to play. They had these tents set up so it looked like a carnival. It was really busy, but it was a good time.”

Thomas said no matter who plans the event, the goal is to bring people together.

“It is more than just a good meal — a different meal — it is an educational way for students to come together and learn about a cause,” he said.

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