Bates Dining, Conferences, and Campus Events Hosts 28th Annual Harvest Meal


On Nov. 17, Bates College Dining, Conferences, and Campus Events (DCCE) hosted its 28th annual Harvest Meal, the Thanksgiving-themed dinner that is one of Bates’ most celebrated traditions. 

The doors to Commons opened at 4:30pm, with apple cider doughnuts and apple cider available outside. Inside, a buffet flanked the Fishbowl with a variety of timely dishes ranging from turkey to tofu green bean casserole. Two ice sculptures, one of the letter “B” for Bates and another of a maple leaf, concluded the buffet lines. The ice sculptures were crafted by dining staff members Bryce Cloutier and Tim Reynolds. 

In the regular serving area, large fruit and cheese platters, crackers, dips, and deviled eggs were served by sous chef Michael Staffenski. Pumpkins painted by dining staff members Bryce Cloutier and Robin Graziano decorated the tables. Music from artists like The Beatles and Jack Johnson filled the dining hall as students quickly filtered in, creating a winding line at the buffet.

Christine Schwartz, Associate Vice President for DCCE, highlighted the immense planning and preparation required to organize an event as involved as Harvest Meal. 

“All 96 employees were involved in the preparations at one point or another,” she said. 

During their three days of preparation, the dining staff cooked 420 pounds of turkey, 320 pounds of halal beef, 320 pounds of mac and cheese, 400 pounds of potatoes, and 960 pounds of deviled eggs in addition to several other dishes and sides. 

Lobster mac and cheese, one of the most looked forward to dishes, especially among upperclassmen who have experienced it at previous Harvest Meals, was not served. Schwartz attributes this to the recent surge in lobster prices. 

“Clear meat lobster has more than doubled in price — we could not get it,” she explained.

The first Harvest Meal was 30 years ago, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not occur in its regular form in 2020. When asked if Harvest Meal preparation was different than in previous years, Schwartz said “Actually, I think it was more like the usual years than last year, which was not at all normal. The main difference is that we moved away from give-aways because we wanted it to be more about being together as a community than winning a prize.” 

Billie Coburn, in his 8th year at Bates dining and 6th year helping with Harvest Meal, said “I think the only difference is what — no live band?”

Schwartz also emphasized the importance of the dishwashing staff. “It doesn’t matter if we have food. If we don’t have some way to serve that and a clean way to serve that, none of this can happen,” she said. All leftover food either gets composted or is transported to a local pig farmer. 

The night of Harvest Meal included other festivities in addition to the food in Commons. Horse carriages gave students rides around campus, and desserts were served in the Gray Cage. 

The Bates College EcoReps, a group of student employees working to improve sustainability at Bates, made their annual Trashion Show video available for viewing in the Gray Cage to raise awareness about waste, in tandem with DCCE’s efforts to reduce food waste. The Trashion Show usually takes place in person on the night of Harvest Meal, but it was conducted virtually this year. The Bates community was able to vote for the winners, and a record of 329 responses were recorded, displaying that Schwartz’s goal of emphasising community was a success.