Thursday, June 1, 2023

Locals team up with Golden Harvest to deliver hundreds of free meals to students

February 23, 2023
Golden Harvest Diner, located on 1625 Turner Street in Lansing, photographed on Feb. 22, 2023.
Golden Harvest Diner, located on 1625 Turner Street in Lansing, photographed on Feb. 22, 2023. —
Photo by Jack Patton | The State News

What started with a Facebook post has resulted in hundreds of free meals for Michigan State University students. 

Though Golden Harvest, a breakfast joint in Lansing, is infamous for its limited morning hours four days per week, owner Vanessa Vicknair decided to pause normal hours of operation to help students following the mass shooting on MSU's campus.  

Beginning the day after the shooting, Vicknair posted on Facebook urging students to come into her restaurant after 6 p.m. if they wanted a free meal.

"If you don't want to be on campus, or are feeling like you want to be around others at night, please come by," the post read. 

For days, the spot stayed open past midnight offering "comfort food," such as beef stew, grilled cheese with tomato soup, meatloaf and spaghetti.

On Tuesday, after nearly a week of free in-house meals, Golden Harvest expanded its offer to those not able to drive to Lansing. On Facebook, a post urged volunteers to pick up boxed spaghetti dinners and distribute them to students across campus. 

Volunteers immediately spoke up. In the post’s comment section, those willing to help coordinated which neighborhoods to go to. Parents jumped in, offering suggestions of spots on campus that might be heavily populated in the evening. 

Golden Harvest prepared around 100 boxed meals to be passed out Tuesday night and the staff plans to coordinate more deliveries throughout the week.

Two of the volunteers, co-workers and teachers Susan Miller-Gorbe and Connie Pochert paired up to help. As mothers of college students, if it was their kids affected, they would want someone to do the same for them.

“I just know how incredibly hard this has been for those students and it’s hard for me being kind of almost an outsider,” Gorbe said. “They’ve just been through so much and I just want to do anything I can to help.”

When Pochert found out about the shooting, she instantly wanted to find a way to help.   

"I have just felt so helpless, like everybody else has been so helpless and I wanted to do something to help," Pochert said. "I have two kids in college and this is always in the back of my mind so I was just hoping that this will put my mind at ease and I feel like I was doing something positive, something that would bring these kids some happiness.”

Miller-Gorbe also invited one of her interns to come along. The three of them drove around campus, handing out meals to any students they saw walking around. 

Miller-Gorbe and Pochert also gave out "free mom hugs" during the distribution to any students who needed a little extra comfort. 

“Whatever I can do to make any sort of peace for these kids,” Gorbe said. 

Tina Sutterlin also helped to deliver the free meals Tuesday night with her husband. She had been following Golden Harvest’s Facebook posts throughout the week and when she saw that they needed people to help deliver, she and her husband hopped in the car to drive over, she said.

“Really, the Golden Harvest was the generous act, we were just the delivery mechanism,” Sutterlin said. 

Another volunteer, Teshia Johnson, is a Lansing resident who has lived in the community since 2008. Golden Harvest is one of her favorite restaurants in the area and when she found out what they were doing to help out MSU students, she immediately jumped at the opportunity to volunteer, she said.

“The food obviously is amazing but it was also about the culture that (Vicknair) created in her restaurant,” Johnson said. 

Johnson described Vicknair as a giving person with a community-based mindset.

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

“If she sends out a message and says she needs help, I’m going to show up to help her because I believe she’s an amazing human and she’s just so caring about her community,” Johnson said. 

Johnson originally showed up to the restaurant Tuesday night to help deliver, but she ended up helping Vicknair prepare some of the meals. She said it was only Vicknair and her daughter preparing food and she wanted to help them make as many meals as possible. 

Golden Harvest is located on 1625 Turner Rd. in Lansing and is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Share and discuss “Locals team up with Golden Harvest to deliver hundreds of free meals to students ” on social media.