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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame Eating Disorder Awareness Club meets for first time

Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of eating disorders and self harm. A list of resources can be found on the National Eating Disorder Association website or through their helpline.

Approved this November by the Student Activities Office (SAO), the Notre Dame Eating Disorder Awareness Club (EDAC) held its first meeting last Thursday in the Duncan Student Center. The meeting featured psychologist Michelle Mannia, who spoke about issues surrounding food.

The event kicked off by exploring several central questions relating to eating disorders.

“What is diet culture, why are eating disorders so dangerous and what qualifies as disordered eating?” sophomore and Notre Dame EDAC president Mollie McKone said.

Courtesy of Lane Obri
Sophomores and EDAC leaders Lane Obringer (left) and Mollie McKone (right) pose with psychologist Michelle Mannia (center) at the club’s first meeting at Notre Dame.

EDAC was founded and approved in September 2021 at Saint Mary’s by junior Julia O’Grady. Though the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame chapters each focus on their respective campuses, the two collaborate extensively on club events.

O’Grady described the club’s mission by explaining its three goals.

“The overall three goals of the club are prevention of eating disorders, awareness and to help destigmatize eating disorders,” she said.

The leaders said they hope to make an impact on campus through club events and policy change advocacy. As one of their debut events, club leaders plan to observe National Eating Disorder Awareness Week next week, from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27.

The week will consist of tabling events to spread awareness about campus resources, lectures from guest speakers, a candlelight vigil and a dedicated Sunday Mass on Feb. 27.

“We’re going to have people light candles for people [who] are struggling or people that have lost their lives to an eating disorder,” McKone said, explaining the prayer vigil.

McKone and EDAC vice president sophomore Lane Obringer said they aim to re-educate Notre Dame students on food habits and culture. High schools, Obringer said, do not adequately teach about eating disorders.

“I remember sitting in my health class being like, ‘That would never happen to me,’” she said.

But it did. Obringer and McKone said they both came to college after recovering from eating disorders and experienced extra challenges with life on a college campus.

“What Molly and I are working really hard to do is educate on how college students are more at risk because it is such a time of change, because there’s more stress and pressure,” Obringer said.

The club’s goals hit close to home for its leaders.

“As both recovered individuals from eating disorders, it was kind of concerning to us how little resources there [were],” McKone said.

Obringer said students face obstacles to get the help they need for eating disorders.

“We know that if a student is trying to seek help and they don’t know where to go, that’s not very productive,” Obringer said.

When obtaining approval from SAO, club leaders said they faced the challenge of distinguishing EDAC from Active Minds, a big mental health organization on campus.

“One of the comments from our SAO person was that they thought our club was too niche,” Obringer said. “But food is a relationship that everybody has, whether it’s positive or negative.”

Besides spreading awareness and education, Obringer said the club hopes to work with Campus Dining and RecSports on policy changes.

“So, working with RecSports on educating about disordered exercise habits, as well as working with [Notre Dame Campus] Dining to make better established meal plans, especially relating to those with disabilities and dietary restrictions,” she said.