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Building Community at Mealtime

One of Grove City College’s five core values is community. In my time at Grove City, there have been so many opportunities to build community with fellow students. Freshmen move in a few days earlier than returning students and, in this time, have the opportunity to partake in activities organized by the Orientation Board. This was certainly one of the most fun parts of college as it almost felt like a mini-summer camp structured around getting students ready for classes, turning any potential fears or anxiety into excitement for the semester ahead, and making connections with classmates. Throughout the semester, various groups on campus hold campus-wide events, like cookouts, dances, athletic competitions, and more. One of the times that the power of Grove City’s community really shines is during Homecoming, when hundreds of alumni pack campus to reunite with old friends and meet current students.

All of these large, exciting events are examples of some of the ways the College intentionally builds community, but one of the ways community is built on campus is much less flashy and more mundane: connecting over mealtime.

In the thick of the semester, it can become difficult to find large chunks of free time to hang out with friends, especially at a school with such rigorous academics. To compensate, many students on campus take advantage of mealtimes, using them as windows of availability to hang out and connect with friends. While eating with people who share the same schedule as you is often a routine way of getting meals, students will also intentionally make plans to find a window of time to eat with friends they might not otherwise see. Furthermore, the dining halls are set up to foster this kind of community, with lots of booths, four- to eight-seater tables, and long tables for larger groups. Some of my favorite college memories have been made around the dinner table. I am so grateful I get to attend a school with peers that value community so highly.

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