Pre-Summit Forum and 9th Annual UFWH Summit Held at Auburn University

March 1, 2014

Dr. Harriet Giles, Managing Director, Hunger Solutions Institute, Auburn University

Alabama Congressman Spenser Bachus with students attending the UFWH Summit (Courtesy, Auburn University)

Auburn University recently played host to an inaugural pre-summit forum followed by the 9th annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit from February 27-March 2, 2014. More than 50 university leaders from the U.S., Canada, and Central America, along with senior representatives from the U.S. government, United Nations, private sector, NGOs, and foundations, attended the forum. Participating in the summit itself were students, faculty, administrators, and other representatives from the public and private sectors. In total, 39 colleges and universities and 27 non-educational entities were engaged in some or all of the activities throughout the four-day period.

The pre-summit forum entitled, Shaping the Collective Role Universities as a Partner in Ending Hunger, was organized by the Auburn University Hunger Solutions Institute, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. During the meeting, participants were asked to identify obstacles that must be overcome and opportunities that can be pursued in order for higher education institutions to become a “tipping point” in helping our local communities, our nation, and the world achieve food security for everyone. Leaders agreed that universities can be on the forefront of the fight against global hunger and food insecurity by multiplying collective impact; consolidating individual strengths to become more competitive for funding opportunities; increasing global relevancy; designing curricula that nurture student innovation and creating thinking; and promoting student engagement. Highlights of the forum included a dinner hosted by Auburn University president Jay Gogue; an “after dinner conversation” with Lori Silverbush, co-producer of A Place at the Table; briefings by WFP, FAO, USDA, and APLU; a university presidents’ panel addressing the issue of “making food security a strategic priority,” and a keynote luncheon address by Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University.

UFWH students preparing meals for the Campus Kitchens Project (Courtesy, Auburn University)

The UFWH summit featured a varied list of speakers from around the world, including Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL); journalist and author Roger Thurow; Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist Mick Jackson; and former child soldier and U.N. leader Alfred Orono Orono.

Additional summit highlights included the presentation of the William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Student Leadership Award, sponsored by Stop Hunger Now and North Carolina State University; Results advocacy training workshop; Stop Hunger Now and Campus Kitchens “hands on” meal preparation demonstrations; and the HungerU mobile tour exhibit.

Auburn created Universities Fighting Hunger in 2006 as a means of bringing university students, faculty, and administrators together to share best practices for solving hunger both at the grassroots level and through a comprehensive academic agenda of teaching, research, and outreach. This year marked the fourth time Auburn has hosted since the first summit was launched nine years ago. Sponsors for this year’s summit were the Better Planet Project, University of Guelph; Syngenta; FAO; Farm Journal Foundation; Alliance to End Hunger; Stop Hunger Now; Kirchner Food Security Group; and Auburn University.