MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Staying on campus during Thanksgiving break can be a somewhat lonely experience—especially at mealtimes. It often means retreating to your dorm for cereal, mac and cheese, or other student-friendly foods.

Christine McDow ’21 saw an opportunity for community building in the quiet days that follow Thanksgiving.

“It’s a tradition for members of the College community to gather on the afternoon of Thanksgiving to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal together in Atwater Dining Hall,” said McDow. “But with the dining halls closed, the rest of your time on campus can feel solitary.”

McDow proposed a new and ambitious tradition this year. With funding from the Office of the Dean of Students, McDow created “Midd Feast Week,” a series of meals open to everyone who remained on campus. More than 100 students joined the fun.

Students enjoy a meal of vegetable jambalaya and rice during Midd Feast Week.

McDow shopped for ingredients—leaving the store with 40 pounds of sweet potatoes, 15 pounds of onions, 10 pounds of carrots, two heads of celery, oils, vinegars, seasonings, and more—and did most of the food preparation herself. Her menu featured black bean sweet potato chili, baked Lyonnaise potatoes, vegetable jambalaya, tacos, and enchiladas.

The food preparation was intense, but McDow took it in stride.

“Meeting so many people and seeing everyone enjoying a home-cooked meal together made the work worthwhile,” she said.

McDow, who served more than 120 meals over the break, says the event was inspired by an Old Stone Mill dinner club called the Perspectives Project, which engaged students in conversations on ethics, morality, and philosophy. Midd Feast Week similarly gathered students to cook, eat, and share stories together.

“Even in this social media–saturated age, breaking bread together remains a tradition that has and will continue to bring together Middlebury students from all walks of life,” said McDow.