Notre Dame de Namur University Cancels Class To Encourage Community Engagement

Students Learn About Food Insecurity in San Mateo County and Beyond

Belmont, CA, March 19, 2012 — Classrooms will be empty at Notre Dame de Namur University on Thursday, but not because the students are playing hooky. The university is canceling classes so that students, staff and faculty can participate in an annual community engagement tradition: Call to Action Day. After a morning of panel discussions and activities centered on the theme of food insecurity, students, faculty and staff will spread out throughout the local community to engage in a variety of community service activities.

The day will begin with a Hunger Banquet, a simulation of global food insecurity and poverty. Participants are randomly assigned an income level and fed the corresponding meal, such as rice and beans. A panel discussion with the university’s community partners will follow. Nearly 200 students, staff and faculty will perform community service at locations from East Palo Alto to the Tenderloin, then return to campus for a reflection. A talk, “Food Security as a Human Right,” will also be offered by international human rights lawyer H. Victor Condé.

“Call to Action Day has given our community the opportunity to live our social justice and community engagement mission for the past several years; it is part of our identity as an institution,” said NDNU President Dr. Judith Maxwell Greig. “This year we’re expanding on that tradition by centering the day around a theme and including action and reflection components, so that it becomes not only a day of service, but also a day of learning.”

Service sites will include Belmont Parks and Recreation and Nesbit Elementary School in Belmont; Collective Roots and Ecumenical Hunger in East Palo Alto; Second Harvest Food Bank in San Carlos; Shelter Network – Maple Street Shelter in Redwood City; Shelter Network – First Step for Families in San Mateo; St. Anthony Padua Dining Room in Menlo Park; and the Tenderloin Neighborhood and VET SOS in San Francisco.