The Food of Community -- Monthly Dinner Free and Open to All
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 31, 2007
“For it is only in company that eating is done justice; food must be
divided and distributed if it is to be well received.” Walter Benjamin
On the second Friday of the month, every month, a group of volunteers gather
at the Waysmeet Center and show that they know about doing justice to eating.
Since the fall of 2005, the students have been coming together to host community
meals for those in need.
The vegan and vegetarian dinners are aimed at providing good, simple food
while promoting sustainability and community. In September 2005, about 50 meals
were served. At February dinner, that number had more than doubled. This year
organizers expect to feed more than 800 people.
The dinners evolved from earlier outreach efforts to residents of Forest Park,
many of whom were married students with children living on a meager budget.
Then, in the summer of 2005, members of the UNH Organic Garden Club and volunteers
at Cornucopia, the campus food pantry, got talking about ways they could marry
their efforts. Cornucopia, located in the ground floor at Christensen Hall,
provides food and other support to UNH students, staff, faculty and their families.
Three students—undergraduate Mark Joseph (’06) and graduate students
Bill Erikkson and Lauren Buyofsky (also ’06 and both past presidents
of the Organic Garden Club) are credited with launching the monthly meal program.
It’s now co-sponsored by the garden club, Cornucopia, and the Waysmeet
In season, most of the food comes from the organic garden. The United Campus
Ministry, Cornucopia and the Student Government Activity fee also help with
donations of food and money. The Seacoast bakery Me and Ollie's often gives
bread, and local families and students sometimes contribute food as well.
For the most part, students prepare the meals; between 15 and 20 volunteer
each month. In April, the community dinners and the Organic Garden Club were
awarded the Community Service Award from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities
“We have a lot of community volunteers, too,” says Rev. Larry
Brickner-Wood, campus minister and executive director of the United Campus
Ministry. “We have families come with kids of all ages. Some people will
drop off a dessert or as salad. It’s a wonderful coming-together of support.”
In addition to filling a need, the community dinners try to promote sustainability,
Brickner-Wood says. Food that isn’t grown in the organic garden is bought
from local farmers or at the Durham Market Place, where they buy either local
“Not only is this helping others but it’s connecting the community
with sustainability,” Brickner-Wood says. “It’s just wonderful,
the potpourri that goes into that.”
Donations of food, money and volunteers’ time are always welcome, Brickner-Wood
says, adding, “We still have work to do to make sure people who are in
need get a good meal.”
The community dinners are held the second Friday of the month from 5:30 to
7:30 p.m. The next one will take place Friday, Nov. 9. The Waysmeet Center
is located at 15 Mill Road across from parking lot C.