AUBURN UNIVERSITY – June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University, was recognized at the White House this week as a Strengthening Food Security Champion of Change.
The White House recognizes Americans each week who are making positive change in their communities, but this was the first time food security was acknowledged.
Almost 1 billion people do not have access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food, and 16 million children in the United States experience food insecurity each year, according to information provided by the White House. Henton and 11 other leaders were selected for using innovative approaches to ensure that no man, woman or child goes hungry and for inspiring others to do the same.
“Today’s champions are examples of the groundbreaking work being done to tackle hunger at home and abroad,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “These individuals are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need. Establishing global food security isn’t just critical for those now suffering from hunger. It is also vital to our long-term economic prosperity. We applaud the champions for their efforts to empower families and communities and to reduce the depth and severity of hunger around the world.”
Henton is the founder of Universities Fighting World Hunger, a global alliance of more than 300 higher education institutions that began in partnership with the United Nations’ World Food Programme in 2004 as the Auburn University War on Hunger. She as executive director of the newly established Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn, which provides leadership for the UFWH alliance.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
Among the other honorees were the Rev. Sally Allocca of Birmingham, founder and executive director of Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources, P.E.E.R., Inc., and former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize foundation in Des Moines, Iowa.
The acknowledgement from the White House comes on the heels of another honor for Henton. In August, the U.S. Green Building Council of Alabama awarded her with its Clover Award, which recognizes outstanding people, projects, communities, school systems and businesses from throughout the state that exemplify qualities of sustainability, leadership, stewardship and advocacy within their industry.
Among this year’s award winners, Henton was the only winner who received the award as an individual. Other honorees were B.L. Harbert International, the Joint Armed Forces Readiness Center at Pelham Range and Neil and Ashley Johnston’s home, “Tide’s In.”
Henton’s involvement on campus as co‐chair of a university‐wide sustainability initiative led to the creation of the Office of Sustainability in 2008. She was instrumental in selecting the Director of Sustainability as well as developing the academic and operational sustainability initiatives. The Office of Sustainability has since grown to include a Director of Academic Sustainability Programs and a Director of Campus Sustainability Operations, efforts primarily focused on environmentall sustainability.
Henton has also promoted sustainable human development. As director of the Birmingham Urban Revitalization Partnership Board, her leadership resulted in the development and operation of the Harris Early Learning Center in downtown Birmingham. It is a national model for exemplary early childhood education and effective public/private partnership.
The Clover Awards were presented at the chapter’s G4 Gala, which helped raise funds in support of the USGBC’s mission to transform the state’s buildings and communities into sustainable, profitable and healthy environments. In addition, proceeds from the event’s silent auction will help support the Building Green Jobs for Alabama program, a free, five-step training program that provides the fundamentals of green building and sustainability to eligible Alabamians who are unemployed or underemployed and looking to re-enter the regional market.
(Written by Amy Weaver.)