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BP holds ‘Meal or no Meal’ auction

Kristin Durbin | Thursday, February 25, 2010

For the past 25 years, the annual Breen-Phillips meal auction has allowed students to see professors, athletes and other campus celebrities in a new light by auctioning off meals with these various Notre Dame personalities. This year’s event will continue that

Tonight’s “Meal or No Meal” auction will include live and silent auctions, and all proceeds from the event support Meals on Wheels, a charity that delivers meals to homebound senior citizens. Students can bid on dinners with a variety of prominent members of the Notre Dame community, such as University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Irish football coach Brian Kelly, Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Mark Poorman, student body president Grant Schmidt and student body vice president Cynthia Weber.

In addition to the live auction, a silent auction will feature gift cards from several area restaurants, including Chipotle, Olive Garden and Hot Box Pizza. It will also include six gift baskets assembled by each section of Breen-Phillips. Each will have a unique theme, such as “Death by Chocolate” and “Luck of the Irish.”

In order to offer students a variety of meals to bid on, event coordinators Susan Garabedian and Adriana Taylor, both sophomores, contacted regular participants and prospective personalities via e-mail during winter break. They also asked other residents of Breen-Phillips for names of popular professors to provide a good sampling from each college, Taylor said.

According to Taylor and Garabedian, the campus celebrities decide how many students to take to dinner, where they will have the meal and how much they want to spend per plate. Some participants, such as Carolyn Woo, dean of the Mendoza College of Business, and Anre Venter, professor of psychology, treat students to home-cooked, ethnic meals, while others take winners out to expensive restaurants, including Sorin’s.

Poorman traditionally gives students a tour of the Main Building and the tunnels around campus. A new offering this year is a meal in Chicago with Professor Candida Moss of the Program of Liberal Studies.

“Certain meals earn a lot of money because of the number of students involved, whereas others make money because the meals are expensive,” Taylor said. “It’s a good way for people to donate money to a great cause while getting to see another side of professors and other people on campus.”

Garabedian said the off-campus restaurants were willing to make generous gift card donations to the event.

“The donations from Chipotle are like Christmas in February,” she said.

Garabedian and Taylor said they were happy about the number of new and returning  participants. 

“It’s very cool to see people at Notre Dame being so willing to participate in the event,” Taylor said. “It shows the amazing generosity on campus, and everyone is willing to help, from students to professors.”

Professor Jim McKenna, chair of the anthropology department, and his wife, Professor Joanne Mack, traditionally take students to LaSalle Grille in South Bend for an evening of food and conversation.

“We love every minute of it and the students we meet become our friends,” McKenna said. “It is just another wonderful reminder of the way Notre Dame, through its good works, helps us break the barriers between our students and us, the faculty.”

Venter, who treats students to a traditional South African meal at his home, agreed with McKenna’s view of the event’s impact on student-professor relationships.

“It is a great opportunity to get to know students, and we have been able to develop some wonderful relationships,” Venter said. “I think it is good for students and faculty to engage outside the constraints of the typical settings on campus.”

Schmidt said he was surprised at his identification as a “campus celebrity” but nonetheless voiced his enthusiasm about the event.

“Coach Kelly, Fr. Poorman, Professor McKenna and more blow us out of the water,” Schmidt said. “But we will be sure to take whoever is kind enough to bid on us to a very delicious meal and we’re looking forward to helping out.”

The live and silent auctions will take place tonight from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Burger King and the Sorin Room in LaFortune. Students may pay for meals with cash, check or the new Domer Dollars option for charity events.