Penn State is one of nearly 50 universities worldwide that have banded together to address the global issue of hunger. Leaders from these universities will sign The Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security – a declaration acknowledging their commitment to make food insecurity a priority. There is a ceremonial signing set for Dec. 9 at the United Nations in New York.
PUSH – Presidents United to Solve Hunger – was created by Auburn University in Alabama in February as the result of a first-time gathering among leaders of more than 30 universities in the U.S. (including Penn State), Canada and Central America. PUSH and the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security are both direct results of the February meeting.
“As a land-grant institution with a major economic impact and research enterprise, Penn State is already playing a tremendous role in addressing extraordinary global challenges related to energy, disease, health care and clean water to name just a few,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron, acknowledging Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences as the lead on this effort for the University. “I’m proud to say that the issue of world hunger also is being addressed in various ways at our University through research and student activism. Our hope is to elevate these activities in concert with other institutions. Together, we have a wealth of expertise and leadership that can lead to meaningful change.”
The public signing ceremony and other related events mark the first time universities around the world will share a collective focus on ending food insecurity.
Tom Gill, assistant director of international programs in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, noted, “Our faculty and students are committed to working across colleges at Penn State and with a range of diverse partners around the world to develop scalable solutions that can combat global hunger.”
PUSH member institutions include land-grants, liberal arts, faith-based, historically black and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities from five continents.
“Land-grant universities have always supported the advancement of food security through research, teaching and outreach as part of their historical mission,” said Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University and PUSH steering committee chair. “I am excited to see so many land-grants – from UC Davis to Cornell and Penn State – joining the PUSH movement. But I am even more encouraged to see schools of every size, background and even nationality join in.”
Participation in PUSH enables members to share their collective knowledge in areas where hunger is historically addressed at academic institutions: teaching, research, outreach and student engagement. One of the first action items in the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security is an inventory and mapping exercise so all schools can register their food and nutrition security work in these four major areas.