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How Community Meals bring people together at PLU

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Image: PLU and Trinity Lutheran Church are partnering up for a new collaborative dinner series, Community Meals. Community members gather around a table enjoying October’s meal and company. (All photos provided by Rev. Jen Rude)

January 3, 2024

When people at PLU are asked, “What do you love about PLU?”

“The sense of community” is the response you hear most often.

This fall semester, different groups on campus joined forces to kick off a new tradition, Community Meals.

Community Meals bring people together—both on and off-campus—for a common goal: to feed, build community, and make connections. Susan Pavur, PLU’s Student Care Network Manager and project organizer, says these dinners are all about “bringing people together and nourishing souls.”

Two people look into the camera and hold up spoons of soup. There is a big pan of soup on the stove next to them.
Four people smile into the camera at community dinner.
Four people look into the camera while cooking a pot of soup on the stove.

How Community Meals center community

More than 100 people attended the first dinner in October, hosted at Trinity Lutheran Church, just across the street from the PLU campus. Many departments and organizations partner up to prepare the monthly meals – the PLU Student Care Network provides leadership and coordination, and PLU Pantry works with the Kinesiology department to create healthy menus, then with Campus Ministry and Trinity Lutheran Church plans and promotes the events. The PLU Community Garden donates fresh vegetables (including 40 pounds of kale for the October dinner!). PLU students from across campus, along with Trinity Lutheran Church members, volunteer to help prepare and serve the community, addressing a local need to support those who are experiencing food insecurity.

“Volunteering at the dinners provides me with a chance to connect with residents of the area, meet fellow volunteers, and build a sense of belonging that I might not otherwise experience,” said junior Rayen Slama, a Tunisian exchange student at PLU who volunteered for the October and November meals.

Community Meals is a team-up that highlights how using our talents and resources can make a real difference in our community, showing how we all work together to make things happen.