Deaton Institute partners with students to address world hunger
Organizations such as UFWH are focused on recruiting undergraduate students for their cause.
Mar. 10, 2015
Former Chancellor Brady Deaton found his lifelong passion for fighting world hunger issues when he participated in 4-H clubs as a child.
He joined the Peace Corps in 1962 and taught vocational agriculture to high school students in Nan, Thailand. The experience strengthened the then 20-year-old’s interest in international affairs, which he carried into his 24-year career at MU.
Even after retiring from MU in December 2013, Deaton continues to inspire students, faculty and staff to help address world hunger through the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership and International Development. Its main goals are to strengthen the leadership roles of universities that work in international development, Deaton said in an email.
“Certainly, a principal goal that remains is to strengthen the role of the University of Missouri in contributing to food and health security and reducing poverty in low income countries,” he said. “To particularly demonstrate the multi- and interdisciplinary dimensions that draws on MU strength and which are so vitally needed in the food security and health dimensions.”
While its mission remains the same, Deaton said the institute has remodeled itself to form better connections with undergraduates interested in international affairs.
Sophomore Maria Kalaitzandonakes, president of MU’s chapter of International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) and a member of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), is one of several undergraduates who are actively involved in MU organizations working to address world hunger.
She said student members of IAAS get together to learn about agriculture and related sciences, and they are offered opportunities to travel internationally and advocate for world hunger relief. Organizations like UFWH are focused on raising awareness and searching for solutions to hunger issues, Kalaitzandonakes said. She said UFWH also brings universities across the world together to discuss ideas and solutions.
“(UFWH) uses universities as a ‘breeding ground’ for innovative ideas because they bring together experienced faculty, innovative student thinkers, and resources such as alumni and grants,” she said. “Universities also provide a safe place to begin startups, try out new research and get a lot of different types of input.”
MU supported UFWH by sending Kalaitzandonakes, she said, and Breanne Brammer, another UFWH member, to the UFWH Summit at Auburn University in February.
MU has been chosen to host the 2016 UFWH Summit, she said.
While the summit will be a good way to showcase MU’s involvement in world hunger issues, Kalaitzandonakes said she would like to focus on recruiting more undergraduates for the various student organizations. She said the best way to increase involvement is to educate more students on what they can do to help international issues.
“(We need to look outside) of just the few majors people think would have students interested in hunger, and notice that all students want to help in some way,” she said. “To help educate our members and anyone else wanting to attend, we are hoping to bring unique speakers to campus … We hope to continue to help localize international issues and help bring together all the different groups already tackling hunger both locally and abroad.”
Addressing issues at home
MU organizations like Sustain Mizzou are also involved in solving hunger issues in Columbia. Its Local Food for Local People (LFLP) project is aimed at improving food security in Columbia and supporting local farmers through annual food drives, LFLP project leader Melissa Anderson said.
“People donate money, and then we take that money to purchase fresh food from local farmers, and then donate the fresh food to the food pantry throughout summer and fall as long as funds allow us to,” she said.
Anderson said the food drive collects money instead of non-perishable foods because there is a shortage of healthy food available to those who need it. Buying food locally supports the Boone County farming market and decreases pollution from food transportation, she said.
This year’s food drive will take place from April 13-17. Anderson said raising awareness of the drive is key to the project’s success.
“We want students to donate, but we also want them to be aware of why their donations help and where that money is going,” she said. “The more people who are aware of our cause and believe in what we are trying to do will just cause that week to be better overall.”
Deaton said working with these student organizations helps the institute in its mission and ensuring that world hunger issues continue to get attention in the future.
“A hallmark of the institute is to demonstrate that all dimensions are vital to fully realizing what is needed in target countries and populations, and to ensure that we do not create bigger problems that may plague us in the future,” Deaton said in an email. “We are in an exciting and formative stage and appreciate all the support we have been given. Faculty and students and administration help so much and give us the scope and latitude to explore creative approaches that will make a long-run difference.”