UFWH Summit to be held at MU to discuss hunger solutions

Keynote speakers include Catherine Bertini, Roger Thurow and Nick Droege.

About one in nine people do not have enough food to eat, according to the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP also reported that almost 45 percent of child deaths in the world, about 3.1 million each year, are a result of malnourishment.

This year, the 11th Annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit will be held at MU by the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development on Feb. 26 and 27.

Each year, a UFWH summit is held at a different university worldwide for students to discuss and learn about hunger.

This summit began in 2014 as a partnership between World Food Programme and Auburn University. In 2006, the idea expanded into the creation it is today: a “student advocacy and action campaign” that focuses on ways that universities and students can contribute to the resolution of global hunger.

Annie Cafer, a doctoral candidate in rural sociology at MU, worked on conference logistics and planned the summit.

Cafer is responsible for planning the conference and confirming speakers. Currently, there are around 260 students from several universities who have bought tickets, including some from Honduras, California and Canada.

“Our goal is that students will become more aware of the issue, and that they’ll become more aware of the different perspectives and dialogue about hunger,” Cafer said.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of solving the issue of hunger, sessions held on both days will talk about the complex nature of hunger, Cafer said. These sessions include discussions on solutions between public and private partnerships, food security and health, media and hunger, global policy solutions and applied research.

“It’s never just one person that has this aha moment and says ‘we’re going to have this policy,’” Cafer said. “It takes teams of people dedicated to [solving] problems, not necessarily disciplines or cultures or political parties.”

Krisztina Pusok, a doctoral candidate in political science at MU and chairwoman of innovative solutions and public and private partnerships for the summit, said that many of the organizers and students will come with different backgrounds in school than she has. She believes that it is important to learn about multiple perspectives to help solve hunger.

“When I look at hunger from a political science perspective, I see different issues,” Pusok said. “Other students might regard other priorities. It is important to bridge those priorities.”

A total of 34 speakers have been scheduled to speak at the summit. Three keynote speakers, Catherine Bertini, Roger Thurow and Nick Droege, were chosen for their activism and advocacy in hunger, Cafer said.

Catherine Bertini served in the United Nations World Food Programme from 1992 to 2002 as the executive director, where she was credited with leading reform of the WFP. Bertini also held the role as senior fellow in agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Now, she teaches graduate courses in international relations and leadership at Syracuse University and is a senior fellow at the Chicago Council of Global Affairs.

Roger Thurow also served as a fellow in Chicago Council of Global Affairs. He previously worked at The Wall Street Journal for 20 years as a foreign correspondent, where he covered 10 Olympic Games along with the release of Nelson Mandela, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa. An author of three books, Thurow uses his expertise on agricultural hunger to speak about hunger and agriculture.

Nick Droege graduated from MU in 2014 and served as the Missouri Students Association president in 2013. He also started Tiger Pantry, a food pantry for the MU community. Since Tiger Pantry’s founding, 10,000 pounds of food have given to those in need. Droege also co-founded SafeTrek, an app that connects users to local police departments when they feel threatened.

“All of our sessions and panels are going to deal with various subsets with solutions,” Cafer said.

Former MU Chancellor Brady Deaton heads the Deaton Institute and is a board member for Presidents United to Solve Hunger. PUSH, a program in conjunction with UFWH, is an initiative started in 2014 that discusses how university presidents can lead their university to solve issues relating to food and nutrition.

Because many MU students were excited about their experience at the PUSH conference last year, Deaton offered MU and the Deaton Institute as the host for the 2016 UFWH Summit, Cafer said.

Cafer hopes that after the conference, MU will push initiatives and students on campus to address the issue of hunger. Pusok agreed.

“Hunger does not only exist in developing countries,” Pusok said. “It could be next door.”

Edited by Waverly Colville | wcolville@themaneater.com

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