The resource centers at Viking Union provide lunches on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at the Multicultural Center kitchen as a way to build community.
The lunches started this spring quarter and take place at the Multicultural Center’s kitchen, on the seventh floor of the VU.
Funds from Dining Services and Resident Life allow the Ethnic Student Center to order and provide food. This support helps the community-building process where students, staff and faculty can come together to form connections.
Lunch begins at noon and so far has included beef, ham and cheese sandwiches, along with fruits, cookies, lemonade and chips.
The seventh floor provides resources like the Ethnic Student Center, Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Center, Queer Resource Center, Gender Liberation Resource Center and Disability Outreach Center.
The lunches are the reason the resource centers came to work together, said Western’s Director of Multicultural Student Services, Amy Westmoreland.
This led to the discussions of support in the Ethnic Student Center and how there should be times and a space for people to relax, talk, engage and have conversations.
The first lunch had a turnout of about 40-50 people.
More school services were invited, like students and staff from the Education and Social Justice minor and Residence Life.
“We were intentional about reaching out to people from different offices to bring them into the space so that folks could engage with them here in a comfortable environment where we could talk and eat food together,” Westmoreland said.
As the resource center provides a location and groundwork for the lunches, the students and staff set the tone and atmosphere with their interactions.
“It’s our students with marginalized identities who are in that space and need that space,” Westmoreland said. “So it’s really nice to be able to provide that for folks and just give a space where folks can actually engage in that way.”
Wednesday lunches may not be as extravagant as a night market, heritage dinner or performance programs, but it is something small that means something big to people, Westmoreland said.
Grabbing food together is a way to bridge conversations with new individuals.
Although this new type of community building has just started, one thing that the resource centers want to include is deeper conversations. These may look like icebreakers that discuss an individual’s identity and what it looks like to support one another through identity, Westmoreland said.
Not only are the lunches creating a larger community for those a part of the Ethnic Student Center, but it also provides a meal to those who experience food insecurity.
“Food insecurity is a thing and it exists and it hits our students with marginalized identities the hardest,” Westmoreland said.
Alex Onhamny, the office assistant for the Ethnic Student Center, advocates for more students to come in for lunch.
Students like Christine Grant, believe it’s a great moment people should take advantage of as there are other resources besides the Ethnic Student clubs.
“It’s doing a good job of attracting the LGBT resource centers and faculty members that people don’t know about,” Grant said.
Michelle Soi (she/her) is a reporter for The Front this quarter. She is currently a junior majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Journalism Public Relations. During her down time she likes to go out and try new restaurants or cafes, drive around with her friends, watch anime and read mangas.
Her Instagram is @michellesoi