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Inspired by the efforts of a neighborhood woman who single-handedly prepared donated food in her kitchen to feed the city’s homeless and low income people, setting an example that led to Washington, D.C.’s most successful food drives, Gallaudet kicked-off its first Full Plate Project on November 9. This campus-wide effort to fight hunger within the community is hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of Social Work.

Standing in front of a tractor-trailer truck at Elstad Auditorium that was loaned by Giant Food LLC to transport nonperishable food items collected from the campus community to people in need, MSSD social worker Georgia Weaver spoke of the legacy that grew from Lillian “Ma” Green’s humble, but heartfelt efforts to feed the city’s hungry.

Motivated by her commitment to serve, Safeway Inc., Washington, D.C. NBC network affiliate WRC Channel 4, and a local radio station took up the cause, creating Project Harvest in 1966, and later, another project named Food4Families. Both of these food drives were highly successful and provided an opportunity for many area schools–including MSSD and KDES–to volunteer their time to fill boxes and baskets with food and bag fresh vegetables to feed families.

Project Harvest ended a few years ago, said Weaver, but hunger did not.

“I felt, like Ma Green, that I had to continue,” said Weaver. “The Clerc Center and the University are one caring and sharing community who care enough to continue to feed our own,” she added.

While Weaver was coordinating efforts at the Clerc Center, the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, through the work of Program Coordinator Janice Johnson, and social work graduate students were working on a food drive this semester, as well. When Johnson became aware of Weaver’s efforts at the Clerc Center, the two combined forces, and The Full Plate Project was born.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people come together for the Full Plate Project,” said Weaver. “If Ma Green was alive today, I think she would be thrilled to see what is happening.”

Weaver introduced a group of social work graduate students who shared their experiences participating in the Full Plate Project, and the gratification it has brought them, not only in playing a role in helping others in need, but to see the campus unite. “It’s so wonderful to see so many groups come together to share the same goal,” said Amy Rousseau, one of the social work students.

President T. Alan Hurwitz said he was moved by the outpouring of support displayed by the campus community, and added that it provided students an invaluable opportunity for community service. He said that he is honoring a request by students in Rhea Kennedy’s GSR 150 class to match funds raised by the class for a local organization to combat hunger.

Kennedy’s class, “D.C. Farmers’ Markets: Apples and Access,” has been studying efforts to provide healthy, fresh food to low-income D.C. residents, including initiatives that help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) recipients purchase fresh food from farmers’ markets. Dr. Hurwitz also recognized Giant Food; Bon Appetit, Gallaudet’s food management service; and Kati Morton, coordinator of planning and research in the Office of Program Development, for their contributions to the food drive.

Provost Stephen Weiner, whose office has been instrumental in promoting the Full Plate Project, commented, “The University is only as good as the community that surrounds it. If it benefits from projects such as this, “we will be enriched, as well,” he added.

In addition, to give to the Holiday Helpings program, go to the GSR 150 donation page. This is a secure site for credit card donations.

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