Minutes before 9 p.m. on Sept. 24, hungry students lined up outside of Friends Hall, curving around the bookstore with reusable utensils and dishes in hand, waiting to be let in for a free feast. What gathered Roadrunners to campus on a Friday night was none other than the College Programming Board’s (CPB) classic Taste of Mahwah event.
Consisting of a night of free food and community engagement, Taste of Mahwah features a selection of local restaurants for students to try out and familiarize themselves with. It is a two-for-one deal for students: a free meal and new food options for take-out or dining while on campus.
“When I heard about this event freshman year, it was late and I didn’t want to go,” said junior Dawn Sy. “But now, I’m taking advantage of the free food.” Sy also shared that she overheard the food being ordered, and thought “Oh, that sounds good, so I’m gonna go.”
The quality free food is nearly impossible to turn down, and with the variety being offered, students gladly made space in their schedules and stomachs for the event.
Students were let in a few at a time by CPB members who ensured everyone got a bite to eat and maintained their distance at the buffet. The event consisted of three courses: appetizers, dinner and dessert, and students definitely had their full share.
“It’s definitely super exciting that we're back on campus and we’re able to have that community feel,” shared senior Angelina Farallo, the committee liaison of CPB. “It’s always great to just be having free food and getting to get together with different friends.”
Friends Hall had space for large groups of friends or individual students who would eventually sit near a new peer and discuss their thoughts on the food.
“It was a fun experience, I was really excited for this event,” shared Farallo, who was busy directing and serving students throughout the night, alongside other dedicated CPB members, including CPB president Paolo Miyashiro, who also serves as Ramapo’s Student Government Association vice president.
Farallo did not hesitate to share that Miyashiro “was a huge help” at the event, as he lent a hand with organizing the event, serving food and calling out for tables to go up for their next courses. His energy, paired with the colorful tunes playing throughout Friends Hall, clearly helped set the energetic enthusiasm amongst the student body.
Additionally, CPB added a new take to the event by asking students to bring their own dishware.
“We definitely encouraged people to not throw out their plates and forks and to just reuse them for the additional courses,” said Farallo. The emphasis on sustainability was recognizable, as many students brought glass dishes, Tupperware containers, bamboo utensils and reusable water bottles.
Although the committee wished they could have had a stronger stance on students coming with their own dishware, the limitations of Covid were understandable, and cleanliness remained a top priority.
“With Covid, we did have to use some of the plastic products just to keep everyone safe and sanitary,” said Farallo. Either way, students were pleased with the food of the night, and those who brought their own containers had the advantage of bringing food home with them, because there were plenty of leftovers. So much so that, towards the end of the night, CPB ended up auctioning off full pizzas and trays of food.
Although it had been two years since the last Taste of Mahwah due to the virtual learning status of last year, as students all piled in and sat at tables it was refreshing to see so many students connecting again on campus.