Soul food promotes culture

A table set with mashed potatoes, corn pudding, fried okra, greens and fried chicken filled the University Center with a friendly aroma Feb. 17.

The annual Soul Food Fest welcomed about 150 guests to sit at the round tables, eat, laugh and learn.

“It’s like coming home,” said Kenisha P. Walton, coordinator for the African American Student Association.

The event, sponsored by AASA and Black United Students, provided students with a home cooked meal.

“In the black family, Sunday dinner was a huge thing (where) everyone got together over soul food,” Walton said. “The soul food concept comes from African slaves back when we were not allowed to have the good parts of food.”

From this history come the staples of soul food: beans, greens, macaroni and cheese and a lot of fried foods, according to Walton.

“We usually stick with the same menu every year,” she said.

Hall Director Carmen Myrick returned to the event along with her famous macaroni and cheese.

“One year, I made at least four pans of macaroni and cheese,” Myrick said. “A lot of students miss their parent’s home cooked meals, so it’s a nice way to just be home together and have unity and a family bond.”

Although this event has occurred every semester for the past several years, a few changes were made this year. Since the primary event coordinator for AASA, Rhonda Sneed, is currently on maternity leave, Walton planned the event solo.

Rather than cook all of the dishes for the festival, as Sneed has done in the past, AASA had foods such as mashed potatoes, fried chicken, yams and greens catered by the university’s food provider, Chartwells.

“I wouldn’t say (the change) is an upgrade, because we miss Rhonda and her food, but Chartwells did a fabulous job,” Walton said.

To begin the event, the entire attendance sang the Black National Anthem. Afterward, junior Harim Ellis and sophomore Katya Stewart provided the spoken-word readings for the evening with original poetry selections.

The singing and poetry reading served not only for entertainment but also to educate the crowd on black culture.

Relating the event to the university, Walton said,”This campus is starving for diversity and multiculturalism…(the event’s) attendance really speaks to that.”