Responding to the needs of many in the Toro Nation, the staff of CSUDH’s Basic Needs Office distributed Thanksgiving meals to students on Friday, Nov. 19. The event was part of the university’s new Meals 4 Toros program, which is aimed at providing holiday dinners for CSUDH students in need.
The program is a joint effort between the Office of Development, the Basic Needs Office, and Campus Dining. It was the brainchild of Andre Khachaturians, CSUDH’s senior director of annual campaigns and advancement services. As a member of the school’s Basic Needs Committee, he is keenly aware of the lack of resources available to many Toro students.
“I was at home thinking about Thanksgiving,” he explained, “and wanted to do something for our students who didn’t have the means to celebrate it with a meal. The Meals 4 Toros program allows us to combine philanthropy with some of the initiatives we already have going on campus, like the Toro Food Pantry.”
Khachaturians and the CSUDH Office of Development sent out a donor request, asking Toro alumni and friends to contribute to the new program. The response was impressive, and the program’s initial goal of providing 250 meals has been bumped up to 500 meals. More than 270 were distributed on Nov. 19, and the remainder will be given out at an event on Dec. 10.
The meals, which cost $100 each, include a fully cooked turkey and a full array of side dishes, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. The food was all prepared and packaged by the Campus Dining Services staff on campus.
“That’s one of the most special things about the program,” said Khachaturians. “It’s a collaborative effort that is done totally in-house. This is truly Toros helping Toros.”
CSUDH Basic Needs coordinator Morgan Kirk added, “This will be the first time that DH has provided turkeys, sides, and desserts to students and their families. We felt that our students deserved a nourishing and filling Thanksgiving meal, having experienced so much these past couple of years. We understand that many are facing financial and food insecurities, so we knew this event would be a huge help.”
The students who received the meals were just as enthusiastic about the program. Jennifer Fonseca was among the first in line on Friday, and said, “As a first-generation student trying to work my way through college, food drives like this make it easier on me. This means we’ll be able to eat a great meal on Thanksgiving!”
“As a student, sometimes there isn’t enough money to get me to the end of the month, so these meals really help,” agreed Nadia Al-Said. “Because they’re already prepared, it takes away that pressure of cooking. Being a student and working, there’s just so much you have to do every day, it just really helps relieve pressure and stress on me.”
Fundraising for the Meals 4 Toros Program will continue through Nov. 30, the National Day of Giving. Those interested in contributing can text meals4toros to 41444, or give online.