The Office of Sustainability has joined Student Government, the Center for Social Concerns, Food Services, and several student and South Bend community organizations to advance the eND Hunger Initiative. eND Hunger seeks to demonstrate the potential for community development at the local level by engaging Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff to confront the challenge of food scarcity in South Bend.
The eND Hunger Initiative convenes monthly through a coalition of 15 community leaders who are presently fighting hunger in South Bend. The coalition considers the community’s existing food infrastructure and, in particular, the West Side. Community-based research has identified this area as a food desert due to the inaccessibility of affordable, healthy food options.
On November 19, the community coalition will meet to articulate a vision and action plan to improve the West Side food infrastructure. Potential actions include: initiating a food cooperative, advocating for a grocery store, or coordinating local farmers with corner stores to market fresh produce.
eND Hunger also is engaged in campus education surrounding food scarcity issues. Just a few minutes away from the campus of Notre Dame, one in five Northern Indiana residents lives with food hardship—meaning they lack the financial means to regularly purchase adequate and healthy food. In addition to the eND Hunger-sponsored year-long series of forums to educate students on issues of food scarcity, the initative also emphasizes tangible ways in which students can help fight food scarcity in the South Bend community.
Two such opportunities include the Holy Cross Harvest and Waste-Free Wednesdays. The Holy Cross Harvest is an inaugural food drive that unites the campuses of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross together for the first time to raise donations for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. Students can donate non-perishable items to collection bins in their dorms and Domer Dollars at LaFortune. The Harvest lasts from Wednesday, November 3 to Wednesday, November 17th. It concludes with a campus-wide rally at Fieldhouse Mall led by Fr. Bill Lies, the Executive Director of the Center for Social Concerns.
In addition, Waste-Free Wednesdays will take place Wednesday nights from 6:00-7:00 P.M. in both North and South Dining Halls. Students who clean their plate so that no food remains after dinner can enter a raffle to win $100 in Flex Points. Encouraging students to participate, Beth Simpson, Director of the eND Hunger Initiative explained, “It is important not to devalue the reality that one plate does make a difference” because “our personal consumption choices can make an impact on the grand scale.”
In all its efforts, eND Hunger advances the legacy of the sustainability movement at Notre Dame in highlighting the moral implications of sustainable consumption practices and their relationship to access to healthy food options for all. In particular, this past spring’s Green Summit on the “Footprint of Food” played an integral role in shaping the vision of the campaign. Moreover, Ken Hackett, the President of Catholic Relief Services highlighted the theme in his keynote lecture on “Globally Engaging Charity in Truth,” delivered at the Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns this past October. In his remarks, Hackett declared that global “access to food is a right” founded upon the fundamental dignity of the human person. The Office of Sustainability proudly joins with the eND Hunger Campaign in the effort to work to guarantee that right in our own neighborhoods.