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Notre Dame staff supports Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger drive

| Monday, September 9, 2019

Across the country, Hunger Action month spans throughout September, educating the nation about widespread hunger in the United States and fighting to help those in need. 

Many members of Notre Dame’s community have come together the past nine years to conduct the food drive, Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger, each September to raise money and awareness for the same cause, with proceeds going towards two groups: the People Gotta Eat initiative, under United Way of St. Joseph County, and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. The drive seeking donations will run from September 9 to 29. 

Anne Kolaczyk, chair of the event, noted one in four kids in northern Indiana go to bed hungry each night. The funds raised for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana will go towards a specific “backpack program,” she said.

“[The backpack program] gives kids in need a backpack of food to take home with them over the weekend, so that they have food to eat over the weekend,” Kolaczyk said. 

Kolaczyk explained the drive is largely run by Notre Dame staff, rather than students. 

“This is not one of the sanctioned charities that Notre Dame collects money for,” Kolaczyk said. “This is basically just kind of a grassroots effort to ease the hunger situation in the community.”

She said the drive is a group effort among many departments, coordinated by Kolaczyk, to collect money for the two initiatives. However, there are some individuals who work apart from their departments to raise money for the initiatives. 

“There are many people across campus whose departments are not doing anything [with the drive] because they can’t spare the time or the manpower, but they still donate,” Kolaczyk said. 

She explained that, while some departments go all out and try to raise money, there are many individuals on campus who donate directly to the initiative websites rather than departmental fundraising. 

Kolaczyk, who works in OIT, explained how her department raises funds for the event. 

“I plan different things. Somebody donated some tickets to [a home football game this season], so I offered them for sale and somebody bought them,” she said. “I was able to take that money and it will go into the pot that goes to the food drive.”

She said the OIT department runs a pot-luck pizza, salad and desert lunch to collect money for the drive. 

“We usually raise about 400 dollars that way,” Kolaczyk said. 

The finance division also participates in the Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger challenge. 

Mark Zeese, who works in the controller’s office in the finance division, said the finance division divides everyone into teams for a “loose change challenge.”

“In essence, everybody throws in their loose change or dollar bills … that goes towards their team totals,” Zeese said. “As kind of an incentive or reward, our employees are allowed to wear blue jeans on Friday, which is kind of special because we obviously dress professional during the school year.”

Zeese said when people notice the employees wearing blue jeans, it serves as a reminder that September is Hunger Awareness month.  

Among the hundred or so employees, the teams collectively raise $1000 to $1300 each year for Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger, Zeese said. 

Kolaczyk said monetary donations to food bank can be more beneficial to those in need, rather than buying canned goods and other food items.  

“One dollar that’s donated can provide up to eight or nine meals for someone just because the food bank and the food pantries have so much buying power that if we went out and we bought a jar of spaghetti sauce and some pasta we might spend three dollars, where with three dollars [they] can do so much more because they can buy things at a discount,” Kolaczyk said. “That’s why we mainly ask for money not for food.”

There will also be a collection for Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger at the game day Mass on Sunday following the New Mexico game. 

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