Food for the Soul Series: Harmony in Diversity

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Food for the Soul Series: Harmony in Diversity

Jackie Drake, Editor and Staff Writer

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Members of the Marian community have likely seen the above poster someplace around campus, but what exactly is this Food for the Soul series, promising worldly ethnic foods roughly once a week for the rest of the spring semester? 

February was Black History Month, and with that in mind, Marian students within the new Black Student Union (BSU) came up with a way to recognize African American soul food. Dr. Jeniese Briggs, Senior Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, had plenty more to tell me about this food movement happening in Marian’s cafeteria. 

Dr. Briggs told me that Food for the Soul is Sodexo’s theme for this year, and the BSU decided to incorporate that theme into one of their activities this semester. They came up with the idea to have ethnic soul foods featured every Friday (or Tuesdays this March during the season of Lent) and include educational components on the history of each food type in the form of short presentations during the lunch hour.  

Dr. Briggs collaborated with Jack Talbot of Sodexo for this series, and together they noted, she said, “We have students on campus from eleven different countries, and faculty and staff from four, so why not celebrate the diversity that we have here at Marian?” 

Coming up on the menu this spring are days designated for Jamaican, Haitian, French, Saudi Arabian, Colombian, Russian and Latvian, Romanian, and Indian foods. The series will then pick up again in the Fall 2018 semester to include recipes from Sweden, Kenya, and all the other countries represented by Marian’s international students and employees.  

“The students are very involved,” Dr. Briggs said of the student-Sodexo collaboration. “Our international students are bringing me recipes, and with the chef’s help, we are going to make these recipes as authentic as possible.” Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of this process will be some translation requirements.  

Dr. Briggs went on to explain that the Fond du Lac community is welcome to attend any of these lunch days, as Marian wants to tell the area, “We appreciate and value the diversity, the life experiences, and the backgrounds our students and employees bring, and one way of celebrating all this is through food.” She went on to acknowledge the relevance of this theme of cultural diversity: “In this time of uncertainty and fear for Dreamers and others, there’s so much going on that if we can bring people together, in harmony, it will make a great opportunity to live out our core values.” 

This series fits coincidentally with the upcoming Academic Symposium, themed Food for Thought: Safety, Science, and Sovereignty, and scheduled to occur between April 10th and 11th 

So far, the Food for the Soul series has received positive feedback from students and employees alike, but Dr. Briggs still welcomes everyone to “just go and try it.” And if Sodexo is on board, this series may come back to Marian from time to time in the future, beyond the next fall semester. Eat in the Hornung Student Center on one of the upcoming scheduled days, try some new foods, and share in the conversation this program is bringing about.  

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