How collaboration led to a safe and festive Diwali celebration

Sure, the pandemic challenged our food services team immensely, but it didn’t stop us from creating an authentic Diwali celebration for students on campus.

When the Office of Internationalization and the Indian Student Society at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia approached our team to organize a special dinner event for the upcoming Diwali, we were all in! We knew we could safely bring people together in the dining hall, following all the proper physical distancing guidelines and COVID-19 protocols, and still create a fun event. 

What is Diwali and why celebrate it on campus? 

Diwali — Festival of Lights — is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India and is the largest religious celebration by Hindus, Jains and Sikh throughout the world. Here on campus, the purpose of the event was to embrace and recognize the growing cultural diversity in the university community and to spread awareness about the growing Indian population to our larger community. Diversity, equity and inclusion is a key value for Sodexo Canada, so we understood the importance. And what better way to celebrate a culture than through food and music.

To ensure authenticity, we worked in collaboration with an Indian international student representative, who assisted our food services team to create an unforgettable Diwali experience for our community members to share with their family and friends, with safety being the number one priority.

The main event 

On November 12, 2020, the dining hall at St. Francis Xavier welcomed over 500 people, including students, members of the university community and members from the larger community in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The success of the evening is reflective of the support from the StFX community, a community that prioritizes culture, diversity and inclusion.

The menu was themed ‘a taste of modern Indian cooking’ and featured dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala with Palak Paneer, Red Lentil Dal over cranberry rice pilaf with peas and Mango Lassi. 

“The team did an amazing job, not only with the food, but the feeling in Morrison Hall was that of a true event with lights all throughout, decorations and information on Diwali. It was one of the best events that we’ve hosted. Faculty members attended with their families and the crowd was excellent.”

– Bob Hale, Director of Ancillary Services at St. Francis Xavier University

“A huge thanks and congratulations for the Diwali event last night. Morrison Hall never looked so festive. You went above and beyond with the decorations, music and information boards. The pride beaming from the faces (while masked) of the students in their beautiful outfits as they shared part of their identity with colleagues was lovely to witness. For international students to see themselves reflected at StFX means so much and enhances the experience of their Canadian counterparts.” 

– Larissa Strong, Director of Internationalization at St. Francis Xavier University 

Learn how together, we can create immersive and innovative food experiences for your students, faculty and staff on campus.