Thoughts from the HungerU Road
Follow along as the HungerU Crew brings you updates from the road. Read current blog posts.
Small Town, Great Big Impact–LaGrange College
NOV 8, 2013
-- By Mallory Weber, HungerU Crew
Warm, sunny skies, beautiful colors and heart-warming southern hospitality greeted the HungerU Crew this past Friday as we arrived in LaGrange, Georgia, for our tour stop at LaGrange College. A school of only about 1,000 students, LaGrange College is by far the smallest school on the fall 2013 tour and, as one could imagine, we weren't sure exactly what to expect.
Let me be the first to tell you, though, we were far from disappointed and no less than incredibly inspired. LaGrange College may be one of the most active schools we've seen in doing their part to fight the hunger crisis–and they couldn't be more willing.
The Saturday following our visit was a LaGrange College 'Service Saturday.' For the past three years volunteers have been gathering in a local church to hold a meal packaging event with Stop Hunger Now. The turnouts have been so incredible, they raised the stakes and aimed to package 35,000 meals. With an outstanding 230 volunteers, they did just that. The HungerU Crew followed their packaging event throughout the day via social media. What was so exciting was seeing how much the students were sincerely enjoying the awesome service they were doing.
We can all make a difference. LaGrange College is such a wonderful example of that. The number of students at LaGrange College doesn't compare to those at a state university like the ones HungerU usually visits, but the amount of action they are taking says so much more. They know that it only takes a few to begin a domino effect, which can inspire others to take part. We can all be part of the fight to end world hunger, every last one of us. Will you follow the wonderful example LaGrange College is setting for us? Will you start your own ripple effect?
A Roll Tide Experience
NOV 6, 2013
-- By Malorie Bankhead, HungerU Crew
I grew up in dance classes instead of on sports teams, but I always tried to follow along whenever my dad watched football on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. In high school I played in the band at football games on Friday nights, and in college I kept up with my green and gold spirit.
At our 17th HungerU tour stop, we came across a kind of school spirit I have never seen before. Of course, I had heard of this famous war cry before, but I had never experienced it first-hand, and it was great! Roll Tide! The HungerU exhibit visited the University of Alabama (more commonly referred to as just Bama, I learned) on November 6.
This week was a little different for our tour schedule. We literally couldn’t be on campus Thursday or Friday because of the preparation for their football game against rival LSU that Saturday. From a personal standpoint though, it would have been awesome to witness; I’m glad the HungerU crew got to experience just a small piece of ‘Roll Tide’!
We had excellent conversations with students all day at the HungerU exhibit, and we even got to visit with a whole class that came out to the trailer on the importance of community service as it relates to becoming a part of the solution to the hunger crisis. Throughout the day, as I spoke with more students, I discovered that ‘Roll Tide’ doesn’t just apply to football for these individuals, it’s an inward passion that exists all over campus and the community.
One event on campus that stood out to me, and that I was glad a lot of students were aware of and already planning to participate in, is put on by one of our host groups on campus called the Community Service Center. The event is a hunger banquet that will take place on November 19. The hunger banquet will teach students the importance of being aware of the hunger crisis in the world by allowing them to experience food insecurity first-hand and teaching them about world hunger issues. I haven’t been able to attend one myself, but you can read more about how my teammate Mallory felt when she participated in a hunger banquet three years ago here.
The way the banquet works is each student who participates receives a ticket telling them what social class they will be in for the evening. Students receive one of the following: a three-course, catered meal sitting at a nicely set table; a mediocre meal sitting in a chair; or rice and beans sitting on the floor. This helps highlight the difference economic status can make in feeling food insecure or very food secure. Knowing what it may feel like to lack confidence in where your next meal will come from proves a powerful point when learning about hunger. The HungerU crew wishes UA students the best for their upcoming event!
Another student who visited us gave the HungerU crew a tangible way to participate in the Tuscaloosa community that evening. The Secret Meals for Hungry Kids program was hosting a fundraiser at the local Buffalo Wild Wings where 20% of your tab would go toward the program. We enjoy learning more about community efforts in the fight against hunger, like the Secret Meals for Hungry Kids program that helps provide children with food for the weekends when they aren’t in school, and making a small impact ourselves.
In the end, whether it’s ‘Roll Tide’ or another war cry, it’s important to keep your passion in the fight against hunger alive! We can all make a small difference that will help add to the ripple effect. What will your contribution be?
Big Orange. Big Ideas.
NOV 5, 2013
-- By Camren Gerner, HungerU Crew
The University of Tennessee Knoxville supplied just that! While visiting the university, the HungerU exhibit was located on the Agriculture Campus between the Ellington Plant Science Building and the Plant Biotech Building. We were introduced to a variety of projects going on to help the hunger crisis both short term, as well as long term.
While on campus there was a 4-H group holding a banquet to help raise money for a service project they had planned to help feed their community this upcoming holiday season. For those of you unfamiliar with 4-H, their vision is a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.
I also had the opportunity to speak with a student who had participated in a meal packaging event where they donated the meals to a local backpack program. Backpack programs provide food on the weekends to students who receive free or reduced priced meals at school during the week. One thing we talk a lot about at the exhibit is how "all stomachs speak the same language." We all understand that feeling of hungry. Imagine if your reality was a persistent tummy grumble because you didn’t have access to food. That is the reality of one out of every four children here in the United States. The access to food is a daily struggle for so many people around the world. Understanding that struggle and recognizing ways to address and solve that problem is going to take us all working towards a similar goal; helping to fight the world hunger crisis.
One student we spoke with had a unique plan. He plans to take a six-month backpacking trip in which after he would find himself settling in Oregon. He would then create a sustainable food forest. There would be herbs on the forest floor, food-producing trees, and berry bushes filling in the spaces between. He found his only struggle to be harvesting the fruits of his labor. His plan was to create a robot to assist with the harvesting process. After all is said and done he plans to write a book about his journey and accomplishments.
The University of Tennessee Knoxville showed us that students are pursuing a variety of avenues to help the world’s hunger crisis. Opportunities to get involve exist at all comfort levels. Take a minute to explore programs currently on campus or programs on other campuses that you might be interested in seeing your campus take part in. Together we can find the solution to the world’s hunger crisis!
OCT 25, 2013
-- By Mallory Weber, HungerU Crew
During our visit to the Big Blue Nation, the HungerU Crew was able to meet some awesome individuals from the UK Center for Community Outreach. While we learned about many of the impressive things that they are doing, I found one that sticks out to me. This coming week, November 18-23, UK will recognize Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. One of their activities will be the OXFAM hunger banquet. Now, if you have never attended a hunger banquet, I highly encourage you to. If you don't know what a hunger banquet is, allow me to share.
In July of 2010 I attended the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., a National FFA Organization conference. While there, I was with about 250 other high school students from across the country. Our 'theme' for the week was "We Must Because We Can," something that still sticks with me today. Let me share with you something else from that week...
One evening we were told to meet outside the ballroom for dinner. As we arrived downstairs we were handed a piece of construction paper that was orange, pink or black. Later we would find out that these pieces of construction paper would indicate what our dining experience would be for the night. We would be attending a hunger banquet.
A very small number of us, about 16, were placed in the upper class. We were seated at two tables in the corner of the ballroom. We had the full, high-class dining experience complete with cloth napkins, candles, a three-course meal with dessert, and all nine forks. (I may be exaggerating slightly with the number of forks.)
A little bit larger group, roughly 75 I'm sure, were designated 'middle class' for the night. They had a taco bar provided and had paper plates and plastic silverware to use, and folding tables like you would find in an elementary lunch room.
The rest of the students, the vast majority, were the 'low class' for the night. Their dinner? Rice. Their plates? They didn't have any. This group of students had to sit on the floor, and their rice was brought out to them on plastic serving trays, in heaping piles. Their silverware? Whatever they could manage to create out of the little bit of tinfoil under the rice.
I remember being in awe. I felt ... guilty. And I hadn't even gotten any say in the matter, it was all due to a pink piece of construction paper. Those of us who were part of the 'upper class' kept asking our servers if we could give some of our food to the students having rice for dinner, but it wasn't allowed. I remember feeling even more terrible because I was helpless. What was worse was that we were given SO much food; we couldn't even eat it all. I felt so terrible leaving food on my plate when my friends were eating rice ... with their hands, and I couldn't even figure out what fork to use.
That evening was over three years ago, and I can still remember the feeling. The feeling of guilt for wasting food. The feeling of wanting so desperately to help. I remember wanting to trade places with someone so they could eat part of my three-course dinner. That night was on one of the most impactful nights of my life, and all because the things happening in the world around us were put into perspective. People around the world are having only rice for endless days in a row, while someone else is wasting half the food on their plate every day. Do we ever stop to think about that?
Students in the 'lower class' were able to help themselves to the taco bar after all was said and done. However, that didn't change what our eyes had been opened up to. In the United States, we are very fortunate to have the most secure food source in the world, but we still have 1 in 6 people going hungry every day. 1 in 4 children are in a food insecure household. Why? Why? We have the power to change that. We have the ability. Start being more conscious about your own food waste. Start donating to canned food drives instead of assuming someone else will. Donate your time to a soup kitchen. Get a fundraiser going in your community, your church, your school and donate funds to a local pantry. 'Adopt' a family in another country. 'Adopt' a child in another country. Be an advocate. Keep yourself aware, make others aware.
If you ever have the chance to attend a hunger banquet, don't hesitate to do so. Please. Here's a perfect chance if you're in Lexington, Ky. this week!
North Carolina State University- Awareness. Action. Awesome.
OCT 22, 2013
-- By Camren Gerner, HungerU Crew
Friday, October 18, 2013, HungerU had the privilege of visiting North Carolina State University, home of the Wolfpack. And they are just that when addressing the issue of hunger—a wolfpack. The NC State community is working together to make their dent in the world hunger crisis. Whether it’s starting an on-campus pantry or coming together for a meal packaging event, the Wolfpack is involved.
Did you know there is a food pantry on campus? CSLEPS, or Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service, opened Feed the Pack Pantry at NC State a year ago this November. Feed the Pack is available to students, faculty, staff and those in the community in need. In just about 10 months, the pantry was able to provide over 6000 lbs. of food to those in need within the NC State community. Way to go, Wolfpack!
Want another opportunity to get involved? On November 9, 2013, NC State is participating in a meal packaging event with Stop Hunger Now. Stop Hunger Now’s mission is "to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world's most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources’." Last year the NC State community packed 125,000 meals. This year’s goal is 142,560 meals! NC State has been participating in these events for six years and has packaged over 2 million meals!! Find more details on the event.
North Carolina State University offers a variety of ways for students to get involved in bringing an end to the world’s hunger crisis. Be proud Wolfpack, you’re doing a great job.
Thinking Outside the Box for Hunger Awareness
OCT 15, 2013
-- By Malorie Bankhead, HungerU Crew
Monday night the quad beneath the clock tower at Queens University of Charlotte was lined with cars, cardboard boxes and people who care. Our tenth stop marked the half-way point of the fall 2013 HungerU Tour, and Queens University of Charlotte made it an unforgettable experience.
The HungerU Crew set up our exhibit on campus Monday morning in drizzly weather, but the welcome from people on campus made our visit worthwhile. Sunday evening, when we dropped the exhibit off on campus, we learned of an event taking place the following night. An organization on campus, Build For Cause, had paired up with the Queens University Center for Active Citizenship to host an event called Sleeping For Cause. Students could RSVP to spend the night either in their car or a make-shift cardboard box shelter, all while collecting non-perishable food to bring awareness to hunger and homelessness. This is thinking outside the box.
The HungerU Crew came back to campus at 10 p.m. to help judge the decoration contest as part of the Sleep For Cause event! We were able to judge the participants on how well they had 1.) decorated their space and 2.) displayed facts about hunger and homelessness on their vehicles or cardboard boxes. We also interacted with students and had our HungerU spin wheel out for the time that we were there. The final count of food collected was over 2,000 items weighing in over 1,500 pounds! That is impressive! Way to go Queens University of Charlotte!
The HungerU Crew also got to meet a very special person on campus: Chef Roberto Mendoza. Chef Roberto was recognized last week by a group of Latin American Ambassadors for his efforts in feeding children who are hungry, both in the United States and in Latin America.
In speaking to Queens University’s Executive Chef, his passion for service is clearly contagious. Every Friday, Chef Roberto brings the unused food from his cafeteria at the university to local food shelters. Twice a month, he brings the unused food to local elementary schools to feed the "little ones" as he so lovingly describes them.
Chef Roberto, who is from El Salvador, also shares his passion for feeding hungry people in Latin America. He donates his time and money to help those in need of meals, because he says he wants to share the blessings that have been placed upon him in life. It was a true pleasure to meet the chef who has sprinkled "Thanks for not wasting food!" signs around the university cafeteria and who shares his passion for feeding people with everyone around him.
The HungerU Crew is continually inspired by on-campus efforts to take positive action against the world hunger crisis. We know that we cannot solve the hunger crisis alone, but together we can make a difference!
You Can Make a Big Difference
OCT 11, 2013
- By Camren Gerner, HungerU Crew
‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito’ –African Proverb
Addressing the topic of hunger can lead conversations in a plethora of directions. The most common question is "what can I do?" The good news is, anything within your comfort zone. Whether you’re looking to travel abroad or get involved within your neighborhood, there is always an opportunity. Students at Virginia Tech had lots of great experiences to share.
I spoke with a student who had traveled abroad many times helping with different programs. We spoke of his passion to get involved in a hands-on way. He shared stories of tilapia farms started in villages to create a protein source and successful way to feed the community. He mentioned the techniques his group brought from the United States to teach the people how to grow food to feed themselves.
Another student I spoke with worked with Feeding America and a food bank in her neighborhood outside of Blacksburg, Virginia. Feeding America’s mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.
She shared with me that ‘Feeding America supplies more than 3 billion pounds of food yearly.’ Understanding the need in her community, this student was inspired to get involved locally and recommended that her friends do the same.
The easiest way to get involved is talk about it. Spread the word and understanding that hunger exists all over the world, including your backyard. We had two separate groups on campus stop by our exhibit with a similar goal in mind, help feed people. One group has a sustainable garden on campus and the other is working to open a food pantry for students on campus.
In sharing our interactions, these two groups now have the opportunity to work together and reach a larger number of individuals. The power of communication is extremely exciting. Keep up the good work!
Rutgers University—Students Act for Change
OCT 4, 2013
-- By Malorie Bankhead, HungerU Crew
The HungerU Crew was greatly inspired by the students at Rutgers University and their desire to act for change. For the first time on our Fall Tour, HungerU had the unique chance to work with student organizations on campus near our exhibit at Rutgers. These organizations included Rutgers Against Hunger, Rutgers University Alternative Breaks and the Student Volunteer Council.
These programs allow students to develop a sense for community outreach and service in order to create a generation of students who are volunteer-oriented and committed to positive social change. It was great to have these student organizations nearby to direct students who visited with the HungerU Crew and wanted to do more about the global hunger crisis to tangible positive actions from these groups. A direct action point that satisfies the need to help others in such a desperate situation is key, and the students at Rutgers University have these at their fingertips.
Throughout the day I spoke with several students about their connection to hunger. Some hadn’t experienced it firsthand, but had witnessed it other places, like Lorenza Jerez, who is from the Dominican Republic. She shared with me that on her most recent family trip to the Dominican Republic, she and her family went on a tour. Before the tour, the tour director asked them if they would like to purchase candy for the neighborhood children, and then told them not to be alarmed when the children come running after the tour bus.
Confused, Lorenza got on the tour bus and was shocked when dozens of naked children began chasing after the tour bus as they entered the village, but became even more shocked when the people on the tour bus threw candy at them. She said, "It was like being in a horrible parade," when recalling the situation. She shared that she did not agree with tossing candy at children, but would have rather bought sandwiches to actually feed the hungry children. It is this kind of logic that will help our generation be part of the solution to the world hunger crisis. Thank you Lorenza, for your desire to act for change against world hunger.
The HungerU Crew can’t wait to meet many more inspiring students on our tour stops to come because we know that it will take a united front to make a ripple of change against the global hunger crisis. How will you make a positive difference?
In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen
OCT 3, 2013
-- By Carmen Gerner, HungerU Crew
Bringing awareness to a topic such as global hunger can be challenging. There are many approaches that have been taken to provide food for those in need, yet the statistic "one in seven people worldwide is hungry" is a reality. At Columbia University in the city of New York, I had the opportunity to speak with some inspiring students. Their ideas were fresh and full of hope. Through all my conversations, one theme remained common. Education.
When approaching the topic of hunger, some students seem hesitant to voice their opinion [or knowledge] while others dive in head first. I had the pleasure of speaking to two bright students who were more than interested in sharing with me, not only their thoughts, but also their plans for putting an expiration date on hunger.
What I found to be most interesting was even with their diverse backgrounds, they both continued to reiterate the importance of education.
"To feed everyone, we need everyone. To make famine a memory, we first must stop forgetting about it" (Alan Bjerga, Endless Appetites). Knowledge is power. The students I spoke with talked about the importance of educating our youth about where our food comes from and the role farming plays in feeding us. "Our" generation, the millennial generation, has the ability to acknowledge global hunger as a crisis and put actions into place that can put an expiration date on hunger. Educate. Discuss. Empower.
Education is key for all ages. We loved speaking with our collegiate students at Columbia University! We also were graced with a visit from a group of sixth and eighth graders from The School for Global Leaders, who shared with us there ideas—talk about a bright future!
I was once told "the moment you believe you know everything about something, walk away." Knowledge is continuous. Be the kind of person who continues to pose questions and seek answers. What part can you play in ending global hunger?
Delaware—Awareness then Action
OCT 1, 2013
-- By Malorie Bankhead, HungerU Crew
Our fifth Tour stop at the University of Delaware proved to be one of our most diverse campuses yet. As a crew, we spoke with many different types of students individually, passions and pathways ranging from engineering to environmental horticulture.
The HungerU exhibit found our home on the UD campus for two days, which allowed us to have many conversations with students as they passed by on their way to class. Another awesome reason we loved being in Delaware was because one of our sponsors, DuPont, is headquartered in Wilmington, DE. We very much enjoyed getting to meet some of the DuPont professionals to learn what they do, share stories about our HungerU experience with them and explore the exhibit together.
We are thankful to DuPont for their positive commitment towards fighting the global hunger crisis as they help HungerU fulfill our mission to put an expiration date on hunger by engaging with college students nationwide to foster awareness and inspire action.
Another special thing about our time on the University of Delaware campus was our agriculture fraternity and sorority hosts! Alpha Gamma Rho, Sigma Alpha and Alpha Zeta helped bring HungerU to their campus—something they had wanted to do for a long time. We were happy to help make their dream a realization by coming to campus this past week to speak with students!
One of our goals for the students who visit the HungerU exhibit is that by exploring what we have to offer and by engaging in conversations with us they will be inspired to take positive action against world hunger. This most always begs the question: What can I do to make a difference? That was the million dollar question asked from the students we visited with, and because of a unique relationship we have with an action program, we had a direct answer for them at the University of Delaware. As a hunger awareness program, we work with an action program called Stop Hunger Now.
Their mission is "To end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world's most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources," according to stophungernow.org. The University of Delaware, and our hosts, held a meal packaging event Tuesday evening where student volunteers helped package 20,000 meals to send to children experiencing hunger in school programs internationally in a matter of hours.
Way to go University of Delaware students! Thank you so much for your dedication and hard work in the fight against hunger.
There are many positive actions we can take against hunger. The first step is making ourselves more aware of the crisis at hand. After all, we can only hope to be a part of the solution to the global hunger crisis if we first seek to understand more about it. That is our job at HungerU. Awareness is key. Action builds success.
HungerU’s First Week
SEP 30, 2013
-- By Margie Alsbrook, Farm Journal Foundation Director of Operations
This week I had the honor of seeing something amazing happen in upstate New York. Students were flocking around the HungerU exhibit and sincerely interested in learning about hunger issues and agriculture’s capacity to reduce hunger and poverty. In a world where we usually want to focus on what is wrong with a cynical eye, it was almost magical to see people have conversations about tough issues and come away with a new perspective.
Our first stop was at Cornell University, where we launched on Monday Sept. 16
. I had some meetings that morning so I did not arrive until the middle of the day, and when I was walking up the sidewalk to where I thought the exhibit was going to be I momentarily thought I was in the wrong place. Then I realized that there were so many students gathered around the HungerU exhibit, I could not even see HungerU! It was a great moment.
For the next hour or so I stood back and watched our young crew handle the crowd, which was large and steady. They were so impressive and poised, even on the first day. Granted, they had just been in a week of training but it was still pretty great. These young women are truly and earnestly passionate about hunger and agriculture issues, and dove right into conversations with the students.
Two days later we were at sunny Syracuse University
, where the crowd gathered next to the school’s famous Carrier Dome
. Every HungerU stop is different. At Cornell we were on the main sidewalk, which was great for foot traffic but we did not have enough space for the peddle tractors. At Syracuse we were near the quad, which meant the tour had enough space to be able to break out the peddle tractors!
At Syracuse, we also held our first Food Forum, with over 130 students in attendance. The students asked tough questions, which is what we wanted. By the end of the hour many students indicated they were more interested in getting involved with solutions related to food security and better understood the nexus between modern agricultural development and hunger.
We are facing a huge hunger crisis, and we will only solve it if we all rise to the challenge of that crisis collectively. HungerU plays an important role in creating that solution.
It’s going to be a great Fall!
Across the Town, Across the World: Syracuse University
SEP 28, 2013
By Mallory Weber, HungerU Crew
The Land of Orange, and the home of New York's college football; that's where the HungerU Crew and exhibit spent our past Friday.
Syracuse was the first campus at which we would only be spending one day, so one of the biggest things on our minds was, "How can we make the biggest impact possible in our short amount of time here?" After all, some of our most engaging conversations from our first stop came from those students who were back at the exhibit for round two from the day before.
Our worries would soon come to an abrupt halt as the students of SU made their way over to us. We were completely amazed at not only the interest many students showed in what we were doing and the global hunger crisis about which we are trying to bring awareness, but in also helping to spread the news.
Though the HU Crew was fortunate to hear many testimonies throughout the day, there was one in particular that stuck with me.
I love to travel and I love meeting new people. Two reasons I love being on the HungerU Crew! And I'm sure anyone else who suffers from wanderlust like I do, knows what I'm talking about when I say I have listed countries around the world in order of how badly I long to visit them. Number one on my list is Ireland, but number two? Greece. The picturesque country has something about its beauty and atmosphere that just draws me to it.
However, I realized this past Friday that there is a lot more to all these glorified vacation spots than the travel agencies and movies tell you about. I spoke with a student who grew up in Greece, who couldn't have been more willing to share her testimony.
I hadn't realized or ever even stopped to think about how people in the country of Greece suffer from hunger just as badly as the people here at home, if not more. She told me about how she remembered being in class and seeing many students in her class fainting throughout the day due to hunger. She told me how prominent the problem of hunger is on the mainland of Greece in the populated cities I've always thought of with a sense of nostalgia for a place I've never even been.
Interestingly enough, the word 'nostalgia' actually comes from Greek origins from the words 'nostos' meaning 'return home' and 'algos' meaning 'pain.' She told me how many times she and her friends would go without a meal so they could give food to other children they saw suffering. It was also very common, she told me, for people with plenty of food, (typically farmers) like her grandmother, to make extra food in anticipation of hungry people around town asking for it.
One thing she said she remembered from when she was young was coming down the stairs in the morning to find six strangers at the table eating breakfast. She told me that her grandmother very regularly would go outside to find people who looked like they had no place to go and invite them in. Amongst all of this though, one thing stuck with me most. The thing she said that really hit me was that, "When you go outside you expect people to come and ask you for food. If no one stops you to ask for food, it's just weird. You think, 'What is happening?'"
Hunger is everywhere. It's here at home, and it's far away. We often times don't think about it because it doesn't affect us directly. We often think of all our dream destinations to be places of fun and fancy free. I challenge you to take a moment, or maybe more, to learn about the effects of hunger not only around you, but in places we don't typically think of it being. Be an advocate. Be willing to learn. Be aware. Be willing to make others aware.
The hunger crisis demands YOUR attention. Will you give your attention to those who need it?
It's all in the numbers ... and the way you look at it: West Virginia University
SEP 27, 2013
- By Mallory Weber, HungerU Crew
West Virginia University, home of the Mountaineers. Fittingly enough too, the mountains of this state are not only beautiful, but they take up a good portion of the camera memory on my phone, as well as provide a very welcome view from my hotel room. Another thing I have come to find is that West Virginia is notorious for their narrow, winding roads.
I will admit, I was a little nervous driving our boat of a Suburban around the WV roads. However, the nerves were cancelled out by excitement as I turned the last curve to see we had made it to the beautiful campus of West Virginia University—the fourth stop of our tour. One thing you should know is that this stop did not disappoint. The HU crew was fortunate to speak with so many students who were eager to share their views and experiences revolving around the world's hunger crisis.
One of those students I was able to talk to was an animal science major, and he had a completely new outlook on how we could be going about fighting the hunger crisis. Now, believe me when I say that this Tour is just as much a learning experience for the HU Crew as it is for the students. This conversation I am about to share with you is a perfect example of how a student brought up an idea I would have never thought of.
He shared with me how he runs about 160 head of cattle back home, which is about 75 miles south of the university—too far to be able to go home during the week, which is something that frustrates him. He told me how he hates to be at school doing nothing, knowing his family is at home working their tails off to keep the farm going and keep food on the table. We went on to talk about his farm, his career goals and then onto his knowledge of the hunger crisis. It wasn't until I asked him what he thinks we should or could be doing about a solution or way to fight hunger that I was totally blown away. We talked about the amount of food wasted in some countries due to rough roads preventing them from transporting the crops to market, and the lack of technology keeping them from having a refrigerating system to keep food. His answer? Cattle. For the crops that can't be distributed before they rot? Feed them to the cows. He told me that every four pounds of food fed to the cattle would put two pounds on the hoof. So that food is no longer being wasted, but being fed to cows which, in turn, would feed the people.
When battled with the question on how they would keep the meat without a way to refrigerate it or freeze it, he came back with an even better idea. He began to ramble off numbers doing math in his head, and he almost lost me. He told me that one cow could feed his family of four for a year, or 365 days.
Also, that meat can keep for about three days before it goes bad. Meaning, and I am not exactly sure how he figured this out so quickly, that one cow could feed 485 people for three days. So the solution was really to just butcher a cow every three days, and at least 485 people would be with food and crops didn't go to waste due to lack of technology. He was mostly concerned with the fact that that solution didn't feed a huge amount of people, but it'd be at least 485 less hungry. I was mostly astounded. I am also going to admit that as fast as he rattled off those numbers, I wasn't sure how accurate he was.
However, when I did the math, I wasn't disappointed. One cow, feeding four people for 365 days would make that cow 1,460 servings. Using his numbers, one cow, feeding 485 people for three days, would make that cow 1,455. He was almost dead on.
All of this, in about three minutes. The way he shared his idea is what really got me. He was so confident, and so sure. It was almost a, "why didn't you think of that?" And why didn't I? It did seem simple. Why hadn't anyone thought of that? Are we putting too much thought into it? Or not enough? Maybe we think it needs to be more complicated than it is.
Whether this is a solution or not, I think he may be on to something. The solutions really can be that simple, we just need to care enough to think of them, first.
First Stop: Cornell University
SEP 20, 2013
-- By Malorie Bankhead, HU Crew
Nestled among the beautiful rolling hills of Ithaca, New York lies a temporary home to many intelligent, valuable, forward thinking minds: Cornell University
. Minds that may or may not have had the global hunger crisis on their forefronts before we got there, but which were interested enough in the subject to engage with the HungerU exhibit
when we arrived. Students engaged in conversations with the HungerU Crew this past Monday and Tuesday
which made the Fall 2013 HungerU Tour launch a measurable success!
At first, many students hurried off to class without so much as giving a glance our way, which was mildly expected for our first stop, yet by mid-afternoon our exhibit was filled with meaningful chatter about the global food crisis.
"We are HungerU, a hunger awareness program bringing conversations to college campuses along the east coast this fall," I said. "Let’s talk about the hunger crisis so that you and I can begin the ripple effect for improvement in the large symbolic puddle that is world hunger."
Several students I spoke with knew very little about the true issue that hunger has become world-wide, and we explored the Global Food Security Index together, learning how food secure certain countries are or aren’t.
Some knew more than I ever could, because they had grew up in or visited countries where hunger exists in extreme poverty stricken areas. As a team, we tried to capture these stories the best we could. Some students agreed to give their testimony on video, while others simply shared their stories with us, for which we were very grateful. Tanzania, Egypt, Mali, China, Israel, Ethiopia, Denmark, Norway, Brazil, and Jamaica are just some of the places we heard about from Cornell students.
I can already tell that these rich stories and humbling moments will be my favorite part of this experience. I’m looking forward to engaging with many more students as the tour goes on and listening to their stories, sharing my passion for hunger awareness, and making a difference on college campuses from New York to Florida.
Here’s to putting an expiration date on hunger.