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How THON Feeds The Dancers

Everyone in the BJC watches as the people in hot pink shirts flood the floor with delicious treats for the dancers. The menu goes up on the screen and most of us are left wondering where all the food comes from, how its prepared, and who puts it together. We decided to dig deeper and find out how THON feeds the hungry dancers throughout the weekend.

According to Hospitality Dancer Meals Captains PJ Tatano and Swati Sankar, most of the food collected for THON comes from donors. Hospitality Committee members keep in contact with local business throughout the year to build relationships and secure donations not only for THON, but for smaller events like the Family Carnival. “We’ve recieved donations from Campus Catering, Irving’s, Subway, Hotel State College, and one of our newest donors is Fiddlehead,” Sankar said. Food donations are huge to THON’s success, ensuring that food costs don’t have to come out of the total.

The Dancer Meal Captains didn’t stop there. For the first time this year, the captains met up with a nutritionist from University Health Services to make sure the meals were not only delicious, but healthy and energy-boosting. Tatano danced in THON last year, and recalled what the food was like in the past. “I know what it was like to dance in THON, and I think that helps us to know what kind of food we really should have. We want them to have the right amount of protein and things like that. We want to give the dancers the best chance possible to succeed.”

The Hospitality Committees feed the dancers nine meals over the course of THON weekend. The meals don’t run on a strict schedule, and Tatano and Sankar say that it usually depends on what is happening on the floor at the time. “Normally the dancers are very excited to be fed. They love their food,” Sankar said.

If meals become too spaced out, “heavy snacks” like peanut butter and jelly are offered to break up the space. For the past three years, the committees worked to develop the “Special Dietary Needs Program,” which accommodates any dancers with allergies. Dancers can bring their own food to the hospitality kitchen a few days in advance where it will be stored for them. When meal times come around, they can head to one of the two snack bars near the kitchen where their food will be prepared exactly how they want it. Dancers can also get other snacks like sandwiches and granola, free of cost.

“People just see us the ones who feed people everybody, but we’ve been working to provide the dancers and everyone on the floor with more options for less money,” the pair said. “Food fuels the dancers, and food is so important to making sure they’re there for the kids.”

About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys Broadway musicals, neck pillows, and eating cereal at night. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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