October 31, 2012 - 1:09am
BY MOLLY BLOCK
Plates and Politics seeks to merge politics with food, a combination that yields fruitful discussion, LSA sophomore Samantha Schmitz, the group’s president, said.
With Election Day just around the corner, the group seeks to educate its members about prominent issues and policies in an attempt to cultivate informed student voters leading into the election on Tuesday. Schmitz said as the club’s president she works to establish a comfortable atmosphere to talk about political views and explore civic engagement through sharing meals.
“It is a place where students can share thoughts on a particular political topic in a safe and welcoming environment while enjoying a home cooked meal,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz said she finds that food brings together disparate opinions no matter how polarized the national political discourse is.
“Politics can definitely be a dividing factor between people,” Schmitz said. “We judge others based on their political stance on an issue rather than discussing why they feel the way they do about a topic. Food is a great way to bridge those differences in feelings about politics. Who can really get mad at someone else over a bowl of chicken noodle soup?”
This year, most of the group’s monthly meetings have been dominated by election conversations, but the group plans to share their knowledge with other students outside of the organization.
“The best way we’ve been able to help other students learn about the upcoming election is by word of mouth,” Schmitz said. “We talk about detailed issues during our meetings and share what we’ve learned with our friends and classmates in the most natural and least intimidating way.”
Since forming in August, Schmitz said Plates and Politics aims to increase its membership through the end of the semester.
“There are many political issues that students are curious about, but feel silly for asking,” Schmitz said. “Plates and Politics is a great way for students with very little political knowledge to gain some insight in a non-threatening environment. The more students that join, the more we can all learn.”