Thanksgiving meals on campus

Campus Dining Services to offer free meals, cook-along kits.

Thanksgiving dinner spread
Plaza 900 will offer a free Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 26. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Feiyu Su

Students can celebrate Thanksgiving on campus this year, thanks to a partnership between Campus Dining Services (CDS), the Missouri Students Association, the Graduate Professional Council, the Residence Halls Association and the Campus Activities Programming Board.

Plaza 900 will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26, offering a free traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and cranberry sauce.

Students do not need a dining plan but they must present their student ID to receive the meal, which they can enjoy at Plaza 900 or take home.

“I’ve been here 16 years. We’ve never had anything open on Thanksgiving Day,” CDS Executive Chef Eric Cartwright said. “But we’ve also never been through a global pandemic either. We’re all going to adapt, chip in and do whatever we need to do.”

Missouri Students Association, Graduate Professional Council and Residence Halls Association have sponsored the free meals, hoping to help students feel more at home and more comfortable with this unusual situation.

Campus Dining Services Executive Chef Eric Cartwright and CDS employees prepare and package food for the Culinary Discovery Series in the test kitchen
Executive Chef Eric Cartwright. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

“Our goal is to provide students the option to pick up a grab-and-go Thanksgiving meal next Thursday to give students some semblance of normalcy despite COVID-19 restrictions and barriers to being at home with their families,” MSA President Anthony Tretter said.

To better serve students, CDS also offered a traditional meal Nov. 18 at Plaza 900, The Mark on 5th and 1839 Kitchen. Plaza 900 will remain open Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28.

“Part of our mission is to enhance the Mizzou student experience,” Cartwright said. “For us, we’re the food people. So how can food play a part in doing that? It’s how we look at it. That’s really our driving force, every day.”

CDS has also partnered with the Campus Activities Programming Board (CAPB) to prepare 100 free cook-along meal kits.

“Each kit will have enough food to make two portions. In there will be turkey cutlets with gravy, mashed potato croquettes, kale squash salad and a dessert,” Cartwright said. “They’ll have all the ingredients, all the recipes, and then you can tune in Wednesday night and watch us do it.”

Students can pick up their free kits from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 in the Shack. Students must present their student ID, and each person can receive no more than two kits. Supplies are limited.

Cartwright will give a live cooking demonstration via the main Mizzou Instagram account and Facebook account at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25. If you miss the live show, it will be recorded and posted on @stufftodoatmu Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The cook-along offers students a chance to cook a quick, easy Thanksgiving meal in a way that’s not intimidating.

“I really look forward to this live demonstration,” said Xiaolan Li, a senior student from Foshan, China. She plans to stay in Columbia during the Thanksgiving break. “I’ve never cooked a turkey before, and it’s too expensive to buy a whole turkey on my own.”

CAPB has paid for the 100 cook-along meal kits.

“We wanted to provide an activity that students could do while here over Thanksgiving break,” said Carolyn Faber, CAPB’s executive director. “We believe that this event is a way for students to feel connected to the MU community, even in a time when most events have to be virtual.”