J2, Kinsolving Dining Halls host “Friendsgiving” to celebrate upcoming holiday

Catherine Marfin

To celebrate the coming holidays, J2 Dining Hall and Kinsolving Dining Hall hosted “Friendsgiving” on Thursday, transforming their buffet dining areas into a traditional Thanksgiving Day feast.

While both J2 and Kinsolving Dining annually hold a Thanksgiving meal prior to the holidays, this is the first year that the halls named the event “Friendsgiving.”

“We wanted to put a different spin on Thanksgiving by centering it on friends,” Rene Rodriguez, director of food services, said. “Besides celebrating friendship, the meal we serve is the most positive aspect of the event, since it’s very similar to the fixings the students are used to when they go home for the holidays.”

Rodriguez said the event also allowed students who would not otherwise be able to travel home for the holidays to enjoy traditional festivities with their friends.

To help celebrate, University President Gregory Fenves and his wife, Carmel Martinez Fenves, made an appearance in the J2 dining hall and served turkey to the students and faculty.

“The entire celebration was in really good taste for students who otherwise would not be able to travel home next weekend,” biology freshman Jun Park said. “At my house, we don’t normally eat traditional Thanksgiving food, since we are Korean, but this meal gives a really homey feeling for students who do celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving.”

Roasted turkey, baked ham and mashed potatoes were among the foods served in the dining halls. Pumpkin pie, a traditional Thanksgiving Day dessert, lined the dessert tables in both Kinsolving and J2. For many students, the “Friendsgiving” celebration served as a break from an otherwise normal class schedule.

“My friends and I came for our own Thanksgiving meal last year, and we’ve come again this year,” English sophomore Emily Omeis said. “It’s becoming a tradition for us.”

Both dining halls were decorated in traditional Thanksgiving style, complete with fall-colored place mats, pumpkin centerpieces and turkey decorations.

Rodriguez said the most important aspect of the celebration was highlighting the idea that the friends made at UT can serve as a second family for students at the University.  

“UT is all about the relationships students make when they come to school,” Rodriguez said. “Students create lasting and lifelong friendships through their college experiences, and we wanted to give them a chance to celebrate that.”