Bum-A-Meal connects students, community


Landon Dierks

Around 560 students dressed as hobos and wandered the streets of Brookings looking for a hot meal on Oct. 9 while participating in a long-standing Hobo Day tradition called Bum-A-Meal.

Bum-A-Meal draws from an event started in 1907 where Brookings residents would leave their light on to welcome students in for hobo stew after heckling and greeting the opposing football team at the train station.

Today, Bum-A-Meal is an event where faculty, alumni and Brookings community members volunteer to host students for a free meal in their home.

“It’s a fun way to connect multiple generations of hobos and share that camaraderie and love for SDSU and Hobo Day,” said Kelly Wendell, a regular hostess and the communications coordinator for admissions at SDSU.

The Hobo Day Committee said 35 of the 63 hosts for this year’s Bum-A-Meal were SDSU alumni and about half of the 63 hosted last fall.

Wendell formerly served on the Hobo Day Committee and has a real “love for Hobo Day.” She enjoys Bum-A-Meal because it creates experiences that “go beyond attending the parade and football game.”

Adam Karnopp, SDSU orientation director, hosts because he enjoys sharing the Hobo Day spirit.

Every year he hosts, Karnopp makes dessert: miniature hobo bindles filled with puppy chow for his guests.

He served as adviser for the University Program Council from 2001 to 2005. During that time, Hobo Day Commitee fell under UPC, so Karnopp advised the Hobo Day Committee also.

After his advising stint, Karnopp wanted involvement on “the other side of it,” and has hosted hobos several times in past years.

“I think that was the draw for me,” Karnopp said. “I wasn’t advising anymore, but it was a way to keep myself associated with the traditions and Hobo Day spirit.”

Kylee Donnelly, Bum-A-Meal coordinator believes it’s volunteers such as Karnopp and Wendell that contribute to making Hobo Day events a success and allow the traditions to prosper throughout the years.

“Here’s an extra thing you can do that’s a little bit more intimate and is real participation,” Wendell said. “We all observe the parade. We all watch the football game. This way you’re taking part in it and helping Hobo Day last for another year.”