Southern Vermont College Announces Relaunch of Campus Community Dinner Series

October 19, 2011

Southern Vermont College (SVC) announced today the relaunch of the Campus Community Dinner Series (CCDS) – a project that invites SVC students and local families with high school-aged children to experience the benefits of family dinners and engage in thoughtful conversation over meals prepared in their campus dining hall.
The project originally launched last spring with four Bennington families and 10 SVC students and ran for one semester with successful results. This academic year, the project has expanded: increasing the number of participants by inviting six families and 15 SVC students to attend dinners monthly and extending the project to run in both the fall and spring semesters. The kick-off dinner takes place on Wednesday, October 26, in Greenberg Atrium of Hunter Hall on campus where students and families will meet for the first time. Future dinners will then be hosted in the campus dining hall.
“Findings from the pilot project in the spring showed that students who participated felt more connected to the Bennington community, one of the original project goals,” according to project director Charlotte Kelton. Family participants shared that their own dinner conversations and meal planning had changed after the spring project, as they found themselves incorporating discussions related to higher education and including healthier food options in their meal planning. “Studies from recently published research by Columbia University showed the benefits of family dinners,” said Kelton. “Our project is further evidence that eating together has value for participants.”
As they did last semester, SVC partnered with The Family Dinner Project (FDP), a non-profit based in NYC, which encourages families to eat together and offers mealtime resources including easy, fast recipes and conversation starters for families on their Web site and links to the CCDS Web site. FDP is a program of The Public Conversations Project, based in Watertown, Mass. The FDP project team includes Bob Stains, senior vice president at PCP, who provided training to the “SVC dinner conversationalists” – a term referring to students charged with guiding the dinner conversations during the events and being liaisons to the families throughout the project.

“It's such a pleasure to work with the SVC student team,” Stains said. “Their enthusiasm for family dinners is infectious and their willingness to serve is inspiring. Their efforts will have a real impact on families and young people contemplating college.” Stains will also be the featured guest when the event hosts its first campus dining hall dinner on November 16.
The Campus Community Dinner Series is being sponsored by Sodexo, Inc., a leading integrated food and facilities management services company, as part of its commitment to enhancing the learning environment and providing students and staff with a nurturing campus experience. Learn more about Sodexo and the role they play on school campuses at
For more information on the Campus Community Dinner Series, visit
About Southern Vermont College
Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a career-enhancing, liberal arts education with 18 academic degree programs for more than 550 students. SVC recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. SVC's athletic teams are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III and the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC). The College is accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges and has been designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Community-Engagement Classification institution.
About The Family Dinner Project
The Family Dinner Project is a start-up grassroots movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter. Research has shown what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Through this movement, families come together to share their experiences and insights to help each other realize the benefits of family dinners. For more information about The Family Dinner Project, please visit the Web site at
About Sodexo, Inc.
Sodexo, Inc. ( is a leading integrated food and facilities management services company in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with $7.3 billion (USD) in annual revenue and 120,000 employees. Sodexo, Inc., serves more than ten million customers daily in corporations, healthcare, long-term care and retirement centers, schools, college campuses, government and remote sites. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., is a member of Sodexo Group, and funds the Sodexo Foundation (, an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than 9.2 million in grants to fight hunger in America.