UOP adapts Thanksgiving meal tradition for students stuck on campus during pandemic

Local News

STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) – The University of Pacific has 150 students living on the Stockton campus who can’t go home for the holidays even if they are allowed to.

Most are like Lu Han, international students attending UOP.

“I never thought cranberry could be a sauce. I thought it was a fruit,” Han told FOX40. “I don’t know anybody in country. Um, I would say school is my home.”

For nearly 20 years, international students, student-athletes and students without traditional homes, have enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving feast provided by the university in the dining hall.

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020’s Thanksgiving meal is being served in a whole new way.

“This year, we just come by and grab our meal and we cannot see our friends. It was quite different,” Han explained.

Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a slice of pumpkin pie were pre-packaged for students to take back to their dorms to eat.

Logan Cope was among the dozens of students who stopped by to pick up a turkey lunch.

“As long as we have a bite of turkey, I’m fine with that and doing family gatherings over Zoom. We’re making it work,” Cope told FOX40.

Cope said the COVID-19 protocols are a stark contrast compared to last year when the hall was filled with students smiling and laughing.

But he said he appreciates the free meal. 

“It’s the thought that counts at the end of the day,” Cope said.

New UOP President Christopher Callahan told FOX40 it was important to the university to keep the 18-year tradition of serving students a Thanksgiving meal going, even if it was in a nontraditional way. 

“We wanted to make sure that the students who are here feel like they have a little bit of a sense of normalcy, a little bit of a sense of home,” Callahan explained. “Hopefully it will give a little bit of comfort to our students who are here.”

Despite the virus robbing students of yet another college experience, they remained grateful for what they do have. 

“Thank you, happy Thanksgiving!” students said.

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