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'Dine to Donate' for earthquake relief

Dining Commons event raises more than $1,000

It seems that people and food come together in times of great tragedy.

After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan, Aya Kamata, an international student from that country, contacted Campus Dining at CSU Monterey Bay with the idea of featuring Japanese cuisine as a fundraising opportunity.

Kamata and Sodexo, the university's food service provider, had worked together in the fall semester when her entry in the “Favorites from Home” contest was selected as one of the winners. She had submitted a recipe for tonkatsu, a meal traditionally served in Japan before a major competition – such as an exam or sports event.

Charles Wesley, campus general manager for Sodexo, readily agreed to the idea. As a result, Tuesday, March 29, was designated Japanese Relief Day. Food from that country was offered all day in the Dining Commons. Fifty percent of cash sales – on all food sold, not just the Japanese dishes – was donated to the relief effort. By the end of the day, more than $1,000 had been raised.

During the lunch and dinner hours that day, visitors to the Dining Commons were able to get a lesson in origami (Japanese paper folding), get their name written in Japanese characters and learn some basic facts about the country.

Japanese exchange students at CSUMB, as well as students in the Japan Club and the International Club began raising money to help victims almost immediately after news reports broke. By March 17, when most students left campus for spring break, $700 had been raised. That money was donated to the Japan Democratic Medical Organization. Donations are still being collected at various locations around campus.

To view local news coverage of the event, click here. To view a video made by CSUMB Strategic Communications, click here.