Around 100 University students, alumni, and local middle and high school students gathered Thursday evening to discuss food insecurity and prepare bagged goods for a hunger awareness service event.
Participants sat around tables and engaged in discussions around hunger and food security in the community. After that, they worked to sort and bag canned and dry goods to benefit the Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen and HomeFront Food Pantry. The food was donated by local grocery stores, including Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.
The event was held on the first day of a three-day Alumni Volunteer Weekend at the University.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have so many alumni interested in engaging in service and equally thrilled to have some of our undergraduate student leaders lead you in this service activity,” Elsie Sheidler, associate director at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, said.
“It’s really nice to see alumni engaging in service,” Dan Rounds ’17, a participant, said, noting how the event brought together alumni as well as University and local school students.
Cathleen Kong ’20, a volunteer at the Community House, said she thought the event could have been better publicized but it was worthwhile and meaningful nevertheless.
Alumni expressed positive sentiments about participating in the event and looked forward to the Alumni Volunteer Weekend.
Victoria Bjorklund ’73, an attendee and Board of Trustees member, said that she was delighted to see the focus on service that the Pace Center and the University have.
“I feel that if you’re going to live a meaningful life you have to include service as a component of that life and service has been incredibly important in my own life. I’ve spent 35 years as a lawyer in a major New York City law firm… and I’ve found that it’s extremely meaningful and important,” Bjorklund noted.
She added that the event was helpful in making people aware that even in an apparently affluent community like Princeton there is a lot of hunger.
According to the website of Send Hunger Packing Princeton, an organization that works to address food insecurity in the Princeton area, almost 420 kids, or two kids per classroom, in Princeton Public Schools are eligible for free or reduced price lunches from the federal government.
The Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen, one of the organizations receiving food from the event, provides a free and nutritious meal every week to the community, even on holidays.
“I think it’s very important to be a good neighbor,” Bjorklund said.
She added that when she was a student at the University, she did not recall so many students engaged in service.
Chris Loh ’86, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, flew in for Alumni Volunteer Weekend. He said that he is looking forward to sessions over the course of the weekend on topics such as annual giving, admissions, and best practices. He said he wants to share what he learns with alumni back home.
“I saw a guy who was wearing his coat and it said ’77 on it,” said Jordan Thomas ’18. “You’re going back almost 40 years but to still see this commitment to service that he had, sort of what we still embody today. Service really is this transgenerational thing.”
The event, hosted by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, was held at 4:30 p.m. on the Frist South Lawn.