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Framingham State announces speaker at commencement: president of Greater Boston Food Bank

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  April 19, 2012 06:01 PM

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Framingham State University announced its commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients for the spring 2012 graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies, which will focus on the theme of food, hunger and nutrition.

The undergraduate commencement speaker is Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, New England’s largest hunger-relief organization.

D’Amato has been an advocate for the hungry for more than 25 years. She assumed her leadership position at The Greater Boston Food Bank in 1995 after heading up the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Under D’Amato, The Greater Boston Food Bank has been transformed into a nearly $63 million charitable business, an organization that now leads the region in providing nutritious food to nearly 600 hunger-relief organizations.

These agencies annually serve more than 394,000 – and possibly as many as 545,000 – residents of the nine counties and 190 cities and towns of eastern Massachusetts. The Greater Boston Food Bank distributes more than 31 million pounds of food and grocery products annually.

“We are honored to have Catherine D’Amato serve as commencement speaker this year,” Framingham State President Timothy J. Flanagan said. “I’m certain our students will be inspired by her story and her long-term dedication on behalf of the hungry.”

D’Amato will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony.

The university will also honor the nonprofit organization Farm Aid with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony. Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid, will receive the degree on behalf of Farm Aid.

Farm Aid has raised more than $39 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture. The nonprofit's mission is to keep family farmers on their land.

In addition to her work with Farm Aid, Mugar serves on a variety of non-profit boards.

The undergraduate commencement ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 20. Earlier that day, the graduate ceremony will take place.

The graduate commencement speaker is Framingham State Food and Nutrition Professor Patricia Luoto. She is the director of the university's John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition, which compiles and analyzes current research and technology to educate and inform Massachusetts professionals concerned with child nutrition and healthy nutrition environments.

“Nutrition professionals throughout Massachusetts rely on the John C. Stalker Institute for guidance on nutrition policy and best practices,” Flanagan said. “Dr. Luoto has done a tremendous job fulfilling and expanding the institute’s mission.”

Framingham State will also confer two Citizen Laureate Awards during the graduate ceremony. The Citizen Laureate Award was created to recognize outstanding members of the community who have consistently supported Framingham State.

One award this year will go to Katie Millett, executive director of the Office for Nutrition, Health and Safety Programs within the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Millett has been a consistent supporter of Framingham State’s John C. Stalker Institute for Food and Nutrition, helping target funding for important nutrition programs and research.

A second Citizen Laureate Award will be presented to Paul Mina, president of the United Way of Tri-County. Mina has partnered with Framingham State to establish unique volunteer opportunities for students at the University, including “Days of Caring” and “Saturdays of Service.”

The United Way recently established food pantries in Framingham and Marlborough to support its mission of providing hunger relief.

For more information on the university's commencement, visit Framingham State's website.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at

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