November 28, 2020

Students and staff attend Food for the Soul event

On Feb. 20, more than 60 students and staff gathered in room 102 of the EAB for Food for the Soul. The event, which offered food from African cultures around the world, was held in celebration of Black History Month.

The Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA), Association of African American Collegians (AAAC), Association for African Students and Society of Women of Color hosted Food for the Soul. The event, which was hosted in room 102 of the East Academic Building on Feb. 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., included free food, music, a sweet potato pie contest and information about the history of soul food.
Organizers hoped Food for the Soul would allow attendees to celebrate Black History Month while also experiencing food from international communities.
Kristen McLauchlin, president of the AAAC, said the idea for the event came after discussing potential ways for the organizations to work together to celebrate Black History Month. She added that the month offered them the opportunity to share their culture with others on campus.
“We were like well why don’t we all do something together,” McLauchlin said. “What kind of event can we explore all of our cultures and diversity, and so we were like ‘Why not show our food?’”

Students and staff gather for Food for the Soul. Photo by Cas Waigand.

Larry Hearn, MCISA’s planner for the event, said the organizations wanted to offer food from multiple parts of the African diaspora to highlight Webster’s global interconnectedness and inclusivity. He explained that the planners looked at three areas of the diaspora specifically: African American, African and Afro-Caribbean.

Sophomore Elayna Etuk decided to come to the event after noticing a poster. While she had tried all of the food before, Etuk was glad to find food from Africa.

Etuk was especially excited to find Moin-Moin, a bean pudding from Nigeria. She said that her grandfather came from Nigeria, but she was raised in a more African American culture.

“Like, I don’t get my Nigerian culture very much at all which makes me mad,” Etuk said. “When I came here, I was like ‘I know they are going to have African food. I want to go there.’”

At the event, tables were also filled with beans, mac and cheese, meats, various types of rice and other foods. Fliers that explained the history of soul food were distributed to attendees as they ate.

“It’s an invitation in a sense,” Hearn said. “Inviting you to come taste our food and come taste our culture and listen to our music in celebration of Black History Month.”

Over 60 students and staff accepted this invitation, and the room was quickly filled. Hosts from each organization scrambled to find seating as guests continued to trickle in, and the tray of fried chicken ran out before everybody could get a serving.

Because of the large turnout, McLauchlin said she could see the organizations teaming up for a similar event next year.

“I knew it was going to be big, but this is just different,” McLauchlin said. “You just see a lot of love, and you see a lot of appreciation for people that genuinely want to come and support the event. So yeah, I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

For Etuk, the event offered an opportunity to celebrate black people and their history. Because of this, Etuk was glad to see the diversity of the guests who attended the event.

“I’m glad there’s not just black people in here. Like there’s white people, there’s Asian people,” Etuk said, “because I think everybody should celebrate everybody.”

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