AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University is now a partner with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for World Food Day, which is recognized around the world annually on Oct. 16.
June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences, and Harriet Giles, director of external communications for the college, were asked by FAO in the spring to engage campuses worldwide through Universities Fighting World Hunger in raising awareness about domestic and global hunger.
A student committee representing UFWH campuses around the world suggested FAO use the new “Why Care?” campaign, which was started by four Auburn students in a Hunger Studies capstone course.
“Because their creative idea was the one selected and because these students and Auburn faculty and Hunger Solutions Institute personnel have provided the leadership for campaign oversight on behalf of UFWH, Auburn was asked to become an FAO World Food Day partner, a prestigious recognition by one of the world’s most important multilateral international organizations,” said Giles.
Kate Thornton, director of hunger and sustainability initiatives in the College of Human Sciences, tasked students in her Hunger Studies capstone course this spring to create a project that engages others in the war on hunger.
“They spent the semester prior learning about hunger, the huge number of people it affects, the debilitating consequences, and most importantly the people who suffer from hunger day in and day out – and they wanted to do something about it,” said Lauren Little, president of Auburn’s Committee of 19, who joined the “Why Care?” campaign this fall with another student Morgan Taylor. “Not just because they were getting a grade, but also because they really cared about hunger and wanted to make a difference.”
Four students – Aubrey Sullivan, Jennie Daniel, Devin Walker and Anna Kate Mullinix – realized they could inspire and remind people about the plight of others around the world if they were asked to simply state why they cared about hunger.
They started the “Why Care?” campaign small by getting their friends and family to pose with signs that explained why they care about hunger. It grew around campus, with many student organizations participating. The Why Care team started visiting campus events, setting up tables around campus, and petitioning others to submit their photos via social media.
Courtni Ward, last year’s Committee of 19 president, promoted it with students and other participants from around the world at the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit in Honduras in March. And FAO started pushing it on its World Food Day website earlier this month. The campaign has resulted in hundreds of individuals from around the globe submitting photos with statements of why they care about hunger.
“Partnering with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for World Food Day is an extraordinary opportunity for Auburn,” said Thornton. “It puts Auburn in another leadership position in the War on Hunger. Not only are we the lead academic partner with the World Food Programme through Universities Fighting World Hunger, but this gives us an opportunity to expand our network to other agencies.”
Auburn University has been a leader in the hunger fight ever since it partnered with the United Nations’ World Food Programme in 2004 to establish a War on Hunger campaign on campus. In 2006, Auburn and the WFP partnered again to develop a global initiative, Universities Fighting World Hunger. More than 300 colleges and universities worldwide have since joined in the fight against hunger and malnutrition at home and abroad. In February, Auburn established the Hunger Solutions Institute, enhancing its long-term commitment to ending domestic and global hunger.
(Written by Amy Weaver.)