Cornell joins effort to fight global hunger

Cornell is one of nearly 50 universities that have joined forces to address global hunger. Leaders from these universities signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security – a declaration of their commitment to make food insecurity a priority – Dec. 9 at the United Nations in New York City.

“Being a part of this initiative speaks to the land-grant mission of this university and reflects our institutional mission to deliver knowledge with public purpose, to effect real change in the world,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

According to Saurabh Mehta, Einaudi Center International Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of global health, epidemiology and nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, who represented Cornell at the Hunger Forum and Public Signing Ceremony: “Cornell is uniquely positioned as a charter member of PUSH (Presidents United to Solve Hunger) to catalyze the movement towards zero hunger and eliminating malnutrition across the globe. Cornell is a leader in agriculture, nutrition, food sciences, animal science and economics, which are all critical to the fight against food and nutrition insecurity.”

“As a partner in solving hunger, Cornell University leads in the field of nutrition in ways that inspire learning, change behaviors, and improve lives in New York and around the world,” said Alan Mathios, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology.

PUSH member institutions include land-grant, liberal arts, faith-based, historically black and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities from five continents. Participation in PUSH enables members to share knowledge in areas where hunger is addressed at academic institutions: teaching, research, outreach and student engagement.

Some examples of current Cornell programs and projects that work to solve food insecurity include:

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension, which puts knowledge to work in pursuit of economic vitality, ecological sustainability and social well-being. CCE brings local experience and research based solutions together, to help New York state families and communities thrive.
  • The Cornell Small Farms Program, housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which fosters “the sustainability of diverse, thriving small farms that contribute to food security, healthy rural communities and the environment.” The program creates and implements small-farms-focused research and extension programs and supports social networking for small farms.
  • Dilmun Hill Student Organic Farm, which provides students, faculty, staff and community members with opportunities for experiential learning, group collaboration and research on agriculture that conserves resources. Student managers host work parties throughout the year, at which volunteers can gain farming experience using sustainable agriculture practices. Students sell their products on campus from June through October, and the farm supplies Cornell Dining and Manndible Cafe.
  • The Food and Brand Lab, a part of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in CALS, which is an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students from psychology, food science, marketing, agricultural economics, human nutrition, education, history, library science and journalism along with a number of affiliated faculty.
  • The USDA-funded Northeast Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Center of Excellence, which joins multidisciplinary researchers, extension leaders and community partners to address socio-ecological factors contributing to obesity. The center coordinates research and testing interventions primarily through the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, which, along with other nutrition education programs offered statewide, reach more than 175,000 underserved families in New York annually.
  • The Global Health Program and undergraduate minor, which engages researchers, field practitioners and students in multidisciplinary approaches to solving population health challenges in resource-poor areas nationally and internationally, including food insecurity.

PUSH was created by Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, after leaders of more than 30 universities in the U.S., Canada and Central America met at Auburn in February to discuss collective action against food insecurity and malnutrition.

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Melissa Osgood