Hundreds of students eat and socialize at a free lunch provided by UCF, Tuesday in the Student Union's Cape Florida Ballroom on the third floor.

Hundreds of students gathered in the Student Union on Tuesday to eat a free meal and socialize at a luncheon arranged by UCF.

A line of students snaked around the corridor in the Student Union’s third floor for a chance to eat lunch with fellow students, at the third annual Gather Luncheon arranged by UCF Wellness and Health Promotion Services. The event is usually held outdoors, but it was moved inside due to the weather.


“We really value having a family atmosphere at UCF and one of the ways we know people experience that is through a meal, and sharing a meal together like family,” said Maureen Hawkins, director of UCF Wellness and Health Promotion Services.

Organizers arranged to provide meals for 500 students. Within the first 15 minutes over 200 students arrived to attend the event, Hawkins said. She said they are expecting over 500 students by the time it’s over.

UCF’s new interim president, Thad Seymour Jr., was at the gathering talking to students and checking out the event.

“This is such a great example of what a community UCF is … this is what UCF is about, Seymour said.

Hawkins said the last two Gather Luncheon’s were very successful with over 500 people attending. She said students were asking her to do this event more often, like every semester.

“Students enjoy the food, enjoy sitting with each other, and we ask them to kind of put there phones down and enjoy themselves, and they stay and have a conversation and have a good time,” Hawkins said.

Several volunteers were at the event helping sign in people and usher them in. They also helped serve the food and quickly clean up during the event. Michelle Contreras, a junior film major, said she attended the event last year and is there now as a volunteer.

“I feel like it always turns out better than expected,” Contreras said. “I think a lot of people come here kind of nervous not too excited about it, but once you start looking in the eyes and see all the conversation starters you start realizing that it’s a good time.”

Most students said they enjoyed the event and liked that the food was healthy and that there were different options available.

One of the students who attended the event, Netanya Andrews a senior communication sciences and disorders major, said her favorite part about it is the setup and seeing people interacting. She said this was her second time to come to this event.

Kali Cook, a senior sport and exercise science major, said she is volunteering at the event for the second time where she does all sorts of volunteer work, “a Jack of all trades” during the event.

“My favorite part is seeing everybody get together and getting to eat some good food and actually meeting other people, Cook said. “It’s awesome … I’m happy to be a part of it.”