Coming together to meet student needs

Thanksgiving this year was far from traditional, and in this time of unparalleled need, our community came together to do what we do best: Badgers helped Badgers.

Thanksgiving To Go has been a Madison tradition for many years, allowing members of the community to purchase affordable, gourmet meals for pick up to enjoy at their leisure throughout the holiday weekend. Given the financial strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many students, the Wisconsin Union catering team recognized the increased demand for accessible meals for students in need. A new partnership was born: for every $10 donation given during the Thanksgiving To Go checkout process, the Wisconsin Union would work with the Dean of Students Office to provide a free individual-sized meal to a student in need.

As is tradition, our Badger community rose to the challenge and over 1/3 of Thanksgiving To Go participants paid it forward and donated to the program. This provided 38 students expressing food insecurities with free meals, and the remainder of the money was donated to the Food Insecurity Support Fund within the Dean of Students Office to ensure funds like this are available for students throughout the year.

“I thought this was a super cool opportunity for people to enjoy Thanksgiving who were unable to do so because of the pandemic, financial restrictions, travel constraints, or for any reason. Making Thanksgiving accessible and affordable for everyone helps alleviate other concerns so that we can reflect on the holiday and give thanks” said Owen, a junior UW—Madison student, and one of the recipients of a donated meal.

The program was incredibly successful in its first year, and both the Wisconsin Union and Dean of Students Office are looking forward to the continuation of the program in the future.