Universities Fighting World Hunger


    In pursuit of a sustainable future, universities will lead a global higher education movement focused on eradicating world hunger.


    Universities Fighting World Hunger will be the catalyst mobilizing institutions of higher education to collaborate in a grassroots student campaign and an all-disciplines academic agenda to end hunger locally and globally.


In 2004 Auburn University accepted an invitation to partner with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in the fight against hunger, one of the world’s most pressing global issues. The WFP/Auburn “war on hunger” led to the creation of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) in 2006, a coalition that has expanded to nearly 300 campuses since its inception.

With sustainability as a framework, the comprehensive UFWH best practices model outlines a short-term grassroots student advocacy and action campaign, as well as an academic agenda focused on long-term solutions that are suitable for adaptation or replication by participating universities. The model is designed to (1) produce graduates who are not only technically competent, but globally aware and socially engaged, and (2) challenge universities to assume a leadership role in creating innovative solutions to global sustainability issues like world hunger.

Although each college and university in the network plans its own agenda, all are committed to stimulate student awareness about hunger as a critical global issue and help them find ways to make meaningful contributions regardless of background, major, or career path. At the annual summits, hundreds of student leaders from around the world gather to share best practices and experiences. You can join the movement to create a zero hunger world by 2030 if you take action now!

Hunger Solutions Institute

The Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) provides the infrastructure for UFWH. We connect people and ideas that work. Our goal is to share knowledge and best practices in the fight against hunger and malnutrition by bringing together all academic disciplines. Hunger can be solved, but only when the relevant knowledge from all academic disciplines is combined with the abilities and strengths of all sectors.

As a convener, collaborator, and multiplier, in conjunction with UFWH, the Hunger Solutions Institute has launched several exciting initiatives:



ECHA functions to ensure that Alabama’s young citizens have access to a variety of nutritious foods that promote healthy growth and development necessary for physical well-being and educational achievement in childhood and a skilled and productive labor force in adulthood.


Established at Auburn University in 2012, HSI works through convening, collaborating and multiplying research, innovations and solutions. Many of its outreach efforts and partnerships have centered on tapping into the huge body of knowledge generated and housed at universities and making it available to those fighting on the frontlines of hunger – in communities in the US and throughout the world. HSI and PUSH have partnered with organizations such as the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) and the Institute for Food Policy and Research (IFPRI).


PUSH is a consortium of university leaders from all over the world who signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security. The signatories agreed to share knowledge, best practices, and collaborative opportunities to leverage the collective power of universities in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.


  • June Henton

    June HentonHSI Executive Director

    June Henton is Dean of the College of Human Sciences (CHS) and Executive Director of the Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) at Auburn University. In 2004, in partnership with the UN World Food Programme, she founded Universities Fighting World Hunger and inspired its expansion to hundreds of campuses and through annual UFWH Summits since 2006. She was designated as a White House Champion of Change for Food Security in 2012.

  • Harriet Giles

    Harriet GilesHSI Managing Director

    Harriet Giles is Director of External Relations for Auburn’s College of Human Sciences and Managing Director of the Hunger Solutions Institute. She heads the HSI’s first outreach initiative End Child Hunger in Alabama (ECHA), guiding a multi-sector task force composed of leaders from government, the private sector, NGOs, and academia. She also serves as the faculty advisor for Auburn’s chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger and in 2013 was presented with Auburn’s highest recognition for humanitarian achievement, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for mentoring the next generation of food security leaders.

  • Paula Gray Hunker

    Paula Gray HunkerHSI Director of Strategy and Policy

    Director of Strategy and Policy for the Hunger Solutions Institute and serves as Organizing Director of Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), a consortium of university presidents committed to collaboration in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. She brings deep experience to her position, having served in international development and food security leadership roles previously at the World Food Programme, the U.S. State Department, the Rodale Institute and the private sector.

  • Deborah Ballard-Reisch


    Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication and Professor at Wichita State University As an Affiliate Faculty of the HSI, Deborah Ballard-Reisch is developing guides for UFWH State Dialogues and UFWH chapter handbooks. Dr. Ballard-Reisch is founder of the Wichita State University Hunger Awareness Initiative and has won a number of prestigious awards, including the Numana Champion Against Hunger Award in 2010.

  • Douglas Casson Coutts

    Douglas Casson CouttsSenior Advisor

    Recently retired after 30 years in the United Nations system, Doug Coutts served as the UN Resident Coordinator, UN Development Programme Representative (UNDP), and UNFPA Representative in the Union of the Comoros Islands in Africa. Before joining the United Nations, Coutts served as a founding member on the professional staff of the Select Committee on Hunger in the US House of Representatives and as an economist with the USDA. He previously managed international education programs at both Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University. Coutts is the founding president of Friends of WFP (now WFP USA), a US-based NGO in Washington, D.C. Currently, he serves as Senior Advisor to the Auburn University Hunger Solutions Institute and as an occasional guest lecturer.

  • Adam Brasher

    Adam BrasherPresident, UFWH Flagship Chapter

    Adam Brasher is the President of Committee of 19, the flagship UFWH chapter at Auburn University. A junior majoring in biology, he joined the Committee of 19 as a freshman and quickly gained a passion for ending hunger. His goal is finding ways to involve students in sustainable hunger solutions in their local community.

  • Jayne Kucera

    Jayne KuceraAssistant Director for Communications and Marketing

    Jayne Kucera is Assistant Director for Communications and Marketing for the College of Human Sciences, the Hunger Solutions Institute and UFWH. She was UFWH’s first staff member at its inception, creating much of its infrastructure and brand direction. She currently is enrolled in an MBA degree program, adding to her expertise in business and marketing.

  • Rick McNary


    VICE PRESIDENT OF PRIVATE & PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS, OUTREACH, INC. Rick McNary has a dedicated champion of hunger for years, working as a volunteer contributor to UFWH from its earliest days. In conjunction with UFWH Rick developed the Kansas Hunger Dialogue, a state-wide model that has now been replicated in six other states. He was also on the Steering Committee for the UFWH Summit 2013 which was held in Overland Park, Kansas and has been very active in PUSH. As vice president at Outreach, Inc. he connects international government agricultural agencies, businesses, universities, and nongovernmental organizations to benefit smallholder farmers.

  • Kara Newby

    Kara NewbyUFWH Curriculum and Resources Coordinator

    Kara Newby is the Hunger Program and Resource Coordinator and the Instructor for the introduction class for Hunger Studies, Hunger: Causes, Consequences and Responses. She has a Masters in Human Development and Family Studies and worked for several years in the non-profit sector and five years as the Program Manager for Family Science with Ohio State University Extension.

  • Ruthie Wofford

    Ruthie WoffordUFWH Intern

    Ruthie is majoring in Political Science with minors in Spanish, Hunger Studies, and Nonprofit Studies. As the Service Facilitator for Committee of 19, UFWH's flagship program, Ruthie has worked extensively with various hunger-fighting organizations throughout Auburn. Ruthie is a Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society member, Miller Writing Center consultant and has studied abroad in Spain.

  • Kate Thornton

    Kate ThorntonDirector of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives

    Kate Thornton is Director of Global Education in the College of Human Sciences, Auburn University, and Director of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives for the Hunger Solutions Institute. She helped develop one of the only academic minors in Hunger Studies in the United States and currently teaches the Hunger Studies capstone course. She recently was appointed as a Director of the Kirchner Food Fellowship program, which provides a unique one-year mentoring experience for a cohort of graduate students, preparing them to identify investment opportunities in agriculture and food systems to advance food security.

The Power of Partnership

No one person, nation, organization, or university can solve the critical issues of hunger and malnutrition. But working together, we can. The Hunger Solutions Institute and Universities Fighting World Hunger are proud to be part of a growing, multi-sector global network dedicated to ending hunger and malnutrition.