LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 13, 2020) — The University of Kentucky will host the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit from March 19-20 in the Gatton Student Center. The event brings together college students, faculty, administrators and hunger activists from around the world to discuss ways they can collectively reduce worldwide hunger.
The event includes networking opportunities, breakout sessions and several keynote speakers.
Speakers for the event on March 19 include Esther Ngumbi, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, who is well known for establishing initiatives to decrease hunger in her native country of Kenya. She will speak during lunch.
The evening of March 19 will feature a Kentucky Proud Dinner and awards. Keynote speakers for the event include Ouita Michel, Kentucky chef and restaurateur, Ryan Quarles, Kentucky commissioner of agriculture and Tamara Sandberg, executive director of Feeding Kentucky. The three will discuss ways Kentucky is developing sustainable solutions to end hunger.
Maria Rose Belding, cofounder and executive director of MEANS, is the keynote speaker for the closing session March 20. MEANS is an online platform that helps connect food pantries with retailers who have surplus food, which simultaneously helps reduce food waste while providing those in need with a sustainable food source. Her work has received recognition from L’Oreal Paris and the Obama administration. Glamour Magazine named her their 2018 College Woman of the Year and CNN named her one of their 2018 Heroes of the Year.
Universities Fighting World Hunger is an initiative that started at Auburn University 15 years ago. This is the first time that UK is hosting the event.
“This group of scholars and students is always inspirational,” said Janet Mullins, interim chair of the UK Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Every university represented will find something they can do to help end hunger, educate students and discover new ways to feed everyone on the planet.”
UK sent a contingency to the first ever meeting and has since then taken many measures to address hunger on campus and around Lexington since forming its own local chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger. This includes Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky, which started in 2015. UK students collect leftover food from UK Dining Services and local businesses to prepare meals to give to local soup kitchens and nonprofits.
“These meals serve families who often cannot afford healthy food,” said Kaela Jackson, UK dietetics major and president of the Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky. “We also deliver fresh bagels to residence halls once a week and provide food for Farm to Fork.”
UK students started Farm to Fork in 2018, which allows them to provide free, locally sourced, nutritious lunches for UK students each Wednesday. They serve nearly 200 meals each week. In fall 2018, UK’s chapter partnered with UK Dining Services, Student Government Association and the Community of Concern to distribute meal swipes to UK students.
“Having access to nutritious foods affects student success and their overall well-being,” said Claire Crosby, a senior human nutrition major and president of UK’s chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger. “This drives my passion to fight hunger and implement new initiatives to make UK a hunger-free campus.”
Registration and more information about the event is available online at http://dhn-hes.ca.uky.edu/summit2020/registration. Early bird registration, which ends Jan. 31, is $20 for students and $100 for non-students. After that date, registration increases to $25 for students and $125 for non-students. Individuals can also submit their hunger-related research abstracts for consideration to be presented during the event until Jan. 15.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.