• Hofstra Hunger Project

    Our chapter at Hofstra University (Hofstra Hunger Project, or “HUnger Project”) has been very active since we first started in April 2012.  We have a Recycle to Feed system on campus in which we collect bottles and go recycling every weekend to raise money (each recycled bottle gives us $0.05 and, as you know, through the WFP it costs $0.25 to feed a child.  Thus, with 5 bottles we can feed a child.  We have raised $229 in one year, which gives 916 meals to children and we’ve sent a check to the WFP this summer.  Last semester (Spring), we have raised $5,342 for schoolchildren in The Democratic Republic of Congo (the event was called “Hofstra 4 Congo,” you can check it out in more detail on our Facebook page).  We have many plans for this semester, including a Charity Miles 5k run (in which we can donate to the WFP), visit and help out at a soup kitchen, and fundraise to have at least 10 $25 loans to send to Kiva to help solve the problem of hunger.


    You can find more information on our website: and photos on our CollegiateLink page.


  • Clinton Leadership Award

    Clinton Leadership Award

    The President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award recognizes students in their efforts to address the issue of hunger in order to strengthen their impact. As last year’s recipient, the award has played a huge role in connecting my past interests and experiences with my future goals.  During my freshman year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), I attended the Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) Summit at Auburn University, where I was introduced to the growing movement of students taking action on their campuses. UFWH sparked my interest in focusing my studies and on-campus leadership on the issue of hunger.



    After graduating, I moved to Sierra Leone to work for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). I was involved in FAO and the Government of Sierra Leone’s effort to improve food security through building institutions that increase access to services and markets for smallholder farmers, who are often the most vulnerable. I left Sierra Leone enthusiastic to see how partnerships at the global level can replicate the successes and address the challenges faced there. I currently work with the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition at FAO in Rome and am involved in bringing together civil society, governments, and UN agencies that collectively shape policy and implement projects related to food security. I work with 60 national alliances and 8 regional alliances worldwide, allowing me to utilize what I learned as part of UFWH.


    From Sierra Leone to Rome, the Clinton Award has provided me the support to fully pursue my goals. The award has bridged my interest and experiences during college with my goal of pursuing a career in the field of development. The Clinton Award provided my fellow finalists and me a platform to share the lessons we have learned as student leaders. One of my favorite memories of the award was the opportunity of returning from Sierra Leone to attend the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit. I met fellow Finalists and participated in the UFWH Summit, an event that never fails to be an exciting time of collaboration.


    If you’re a student leader who has made fighting hunger a core part of your college experience, then Clinton Award will move you along whatever path you have chosen. As we all know, the effort we put forward on campus, in our communities, and beyond related to ending hunger is hard work. There are many challenges that call for our leadership and action. The Clinton award is fuel for your fire. It is an important part of preparing our generation to take on the challenges ahead. The lessons learned and relationships formed through the Clinton Award will motivate me as I continue my involvement in this important work in which we all share.


  • Ending Childhood Hunger in Alabama

    A Journey to Ending Childhood Hunger in Alabama


    When asked to write this blog post, I thought awhile about what it was I wanted to write about. What would my message be? I would like to think that those who read this get something from it, whether it is inspiration to act or the conviction to pray for those faced with hunger.

    First, I would like to share a little bit about myself and how I got to where I am. My journey with the topic of hunger began with Dr. Kate Thornton’s class, Hunger: Causes, Consequences, and Responses. From this class, I was introduced to new ways of thinking, I developed a caring attitude regarding the topic of hunger, and I became more civically engaged. I found myself caring about who my representatives are, and what they are doing about issues such as hunger.

    With my curiosity sparked, I continued with the Hunger Studies Minor and was able to participate in the spring Hunger Capstone. The experience was one of the best during my college career. The research, trip to New York, and the friends made are things I will always remember and smile about.

    In the same semester, I was having to seek out an internship for the fall semester so I could graduate. I applied for several, and nothing was working out. I knew I wanted to work in a place where I could apply what I had learned about hunger. I remember talking with Kate, frantic about what I was going to do with my life. She walked me downstairs in Spidle Hall, and talked with Dr. Harriet Giles about interning for the End Childhood Hunger in Alabama campaign. Success! I was ecstatic about the opportunity and couldn’t wait for the fall semester to begin.

    Now, here I am working with ECHA. I have been doing research for this campaign, and have learned a lot about hunger in Alabama. From my own research and from reading Counties in Crisis: Assessing Quality of Life in Alabama, a study by ASU ( ), I have learned that hunger is a big issue for our state. Hunger and poverty go hand in hand, and Alabama is affected by both.

    There are tons of churches, non-profits, and food pantries in our state. So far, my document is 38 pages long and just lists the agencies available who provide food. However, I have found that the majority of agencies are located in the more financially stable areas. I am using the Counties in Crisis study to determine the financial state of specific counties. For example, Madison County has 51 hunger related agencies in the county. The black belt area of Alabama is the most poverty stricken area in our state, and is home to the two poorest counties in Alabama. These two counties are Wilcox and Perry. These two counties have four agencies providing food each. This includes Alabama DHR.

    My first thought when I discovered this was: How backwards is this?! Then, you think about hidden hunger. Those families who do not qualify for assistance. These families can pay their bills, but at the end of the month they may run out of resources to buy food. From the countless articles I have read over the last year, it seems that hidden hunger exists in the more wealthy areas. So, are the agencies and resources really backwards? That is a question I have not been able to answer yet. I do know these agencies are important and make a difference in the communities they serve.

    I know people are still going hungry right here in our state. My hope is that through the research I am doing for ECHA, more families can be connected with agencies and the resources they need. I am hoping that this makes a difference in the fight against hunger. My work will not be done after this semester. I am committed to this cause, and hope that throughout my life I can help others in need. I hope to see hunger eradicated in my lifetime.  I hope policy issues surrounding hunger are made better. I hope that one day nonprofits and food pantries will not have as many clients walking through the doors. I have hope that we can beat hunger. The food is here. The technology is here. The political will is here. Now is the time to take a stand against hunger. There are many ways to get involved such as advocating, volunteering, contacting your representative, and donating to hunger related agencies. Hunger is solvable, but it will take people working together to make it happen.


    Written by Kayla Acklin, an intern for Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute’s End Childhood Hunger in Alabama campaign.


  • The Generation to End Hunger

    The Generation to End Hunger



    Currently, 870 million people in the world do not have enough food to eat (WFP Statistics, 2013).  In the United States, hunger exists for more than 50 million people, which translates to one in six Americans (Feeding America, 2013).  The problem is connected to multiple causes, including, but not limited to, poverty, population, violence, racism, gender discrimination and inequality, and vulnerability of children and elderly people (Cohen & Reeves, 1995).  Hunger statistics expose a devastating reality, but with this despair comes a sense of hope that Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, is the generation to end the war against hunger.


     This generation has the knowledge to end hunger.  Leading researchers in global health have contributed a substantial amount of information to the hunger knowledge portal.  Based on extensive research, it has been determined that enough food exists to provide everybody in the world with sufficient meals for the next three decades (McGovern, 2001).  This generation has the technology to end hunger.  Developments in technology have assisted the war against hunger through two different routes.  First, agricultural productivity growth allows farmers to produce more food using the same amount of resources, in effect making food more available and less expensive (FAO Report, 2013).  The second aspect of technology is the media’s ability to reach extensive audiences with a newfound immediacy.  The media has served as a convenient and interactive form of technology to gain attention and raise awareness of hunger-related issues.  This generation has the political will to end hunger.  Food aid and the financial aspect of ending hunger are both hot topics in politics.  Globally and domestically, leaders in the political realm have stepped up and placed overarching hunger issues, including malnutrition, obesity and stunting at the forefront of campaigns.


    The solution to ending hunger is within reach and I propose a threefold solution based on common research themes.  The primary step toward alleviating hunger must be accomplished by political leaders—world leaders must take a stand in this fight by prioritizing hunger as both a national and an international goal. The second step is to promote productive and sustainable agriculture.  For as long as new technologies are emerging, technology should continue to be part of the solution.  Modern science is necessary to discover how to stretch a small amount of resources over a long period of time.  The third step is to continue the movement to empower women until gender equality is achieved.  Globally, women-led farmers make up a significant portion of the agricultural labor force.  Increasing the power that women have in agriculture can increase their profits and benefit the economy.  A program should be set in place worldwide to provide food, nutrition counseling and health services to high-risk individuals, including low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and young children (McGovern, 2001).  Hunger cannot be solved overnight, but given the proper balance of knowledge, technology and political will, preventing and ending hunger is entirely possible.



    Written by Lauren Fletcher, Auburn University Graduate Student 2013




  • Fiji… Resort or Realization?



    When most people think of Fiji, they picture fancy resorts with beautiful beaches, oceanfront views, and one of the finest tourist destinations on earth.  All of that is true if you want to limit yourself to one tiny area of this beautiful country.  However, if you choose to explore the rest of the country, you will notice a rather drastic change.  It is still the most beautiful place I have ever seen, but the fancy resorts and posh living are gone, replaced by small villages and towns that are filled with extremely hardworking and vibrant people.


    Poverty and malnutrition usually don’t reveal themselves here as starving children on the side of the road or people wasting away from preventable diseases.  The Fijian islands are surrounded by an ocean full of fish and rich land that can grow almost anything, so the problems are more hidden in the form of micronutrient deficiencies.  The real issue lies in the need for education on the importance of proper nutrition.  Many foods are fried, and micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables are often left out of very high carbohydrate meals.


    In addition, parents are often unaware of how to best feed their children, especially when they are very young.  Habits begin to form at a very young age, so teaching children about nutrition, whose minds are eager to absorb whatever information you have to share, can be extremely beneficial in improving the health of future generations. Sharing important nutritional knowledge with mothers can go great lengths in ensuring a child’s health as they grow.


    It is important to not forget the value of educating people on the resources around them.  You could have a grocery store in your backyard, but without knowledge of the right foods to choose and how to prepare them, you can’t select the products that will help your family grow stronger and prevent nutritional deficiencies.


    Written by Sara Rains, Auburn University student and ONE Representative for the Committee of 19.




  • Meet the Experts: Fighting Plant Disease with Science and Technology

    Meet the Experts: Fighting Plant Disease with Science and Technology


    Meet Jean Ristaino, a 2012 Jefferson Science Fellow with USAID and William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

    Last year at USAID, Ristaino supported the Feed the Future initiative through her work on plant diseases and human and institutional capacity building. We talked with her to learn more about her passion for food security and how science can help us end poverty and hunger.

    Tell us a little about your research and academic interests.

    I work on one of the most notorious plant diseases known to mankind: late blight of potato, caused byPhytophthora infestans, which was the culprit for the Irish famine more than 160 years ago. The wordPhytophthora literally means “plant destroyer” and it does just that: The disease can kill a potato field in a matter of days if left untreated.

    Late blight is still a threat to food security in many areas of the developing world where smallholder farmers have limited incomes and lack access to fungicides to treat plant diseases.

    More generally, I study plant disease epidemics, track disease outbreaks using geospatial surveillance systems, and monitor pathogens using genetic tools.

    Plants and pathogens are in an “arms race.” We often use a concept from the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass to explain this concept: That one has to keep running to stay in the same place. Plants have to constantly evolve resistance to ever-changing plant pathogens if they are to survive.

    What motivated you to work on these issues?

    I lead the Global Plant Health Internship Program, funded by the National Science Foundation, at North Carolina State University and have been teaching tropical plant pathology for many years in Central America. My late blight research has also taken me to Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.

    I’ve seen how plant diseases limit yields for smallholder farmers. Plant diseases have been reported to cause up to 40 percent of postharvest loss of staple food crops, and they can lead to food insecurity in regions where outbreaks occur, impacting national security.

    I’m writing this blog from Honduras, where I recently taught a workshop on plant disease diagnostics for Phytophthora diseases, as part of the Feed the Future Horticulture Innovation Lab. My goal is to empower plant diagnosticians by giving them the tools they need to monitor plant pathogens that move aerially, in seed, or in propagation materials before disease occurs. What we want to do is prevent outbreaks instead of working in crisis mode to mitigate impacts once an outbreak occurs.

    I’m also motivated to help train the next generation women agricultural scientists in Africa, who will help deploy the technologies needed to manage plant diseases and improve food security in the region. Women are the primary smallholder farmers in Africa and we need more trained African women scientists to work with them.

    Your work on a strategy for coffee rust research while at USAID is particularly timely. How can science and technology help address this issue, particularly in Central America?

    I’ve seen coffee rust in the past, but it only minimally impacted coffee plantations because growers have usually managed the disease with a few appropriately-timed fungicide sprays.

    But in the past year, outbreaks of coffee rust disease, or “La Roya,” caused by the rust pathogenHemileia vastatrix, have made coffee plants lose all their leaves at many plantations over wide areas of Central America.

    The disease is occurring at higher elevations on plantations that in the past had never experienced coffee rust. Climate change is expanding the geographic range of the pathogen and the pathogens themselves may also be changing. We need to genetically monitor the rust pathogen, identify races, and determine if new genotypes are present in the region so breeding can be effective long-term.

    Central America needs to immediately deploy a coffee rust geospatial biosurveillance system to monitor both disease incidence and pathogen genotypes. This could be modeled after systems we already have in place in the United States for late blight and several other plant diseases. Efforts are underway to begin monitoring outbreaks.

    In the short term, replanting plantations with tolerant varieties and providing access to timely fungicides before the rainy season will reduce disease.

    To prevent further devastating outbreaks, we need coffee breeding programs that not only include variety trials conducted in various locations, but that also train students who will become future coffee breeders and plant pathologists.

    What’s one thing you wish more people knew or understood about global food security and nutrition?

    Plant diseases can impact food security. And food security is tightly linked to national security in many areas of the developing world. The correlation between food shortages and political instability is striking. Investment in agriculture research for development is strategically important to our nation’s security as well as the world’s.

    Research to mitigate plant and animal diseases and make crops more resilient to climate change is a wise strategic investment. We have a moral obligation not only to help reduce hunger, but also to build the infrastructure in human and institutional capacity that countries need to sustainably produce nutritious food. 

    How has the fellowship impacted you personally and professionally?

    My year in Washington was incredibly rewarding. I have a better understanding of how diplomacy and development work, how politics influence science and development, and how USAID and its missions work. I experienced firsthand how passionate people at USAID are about feeding a hungry world.

    I participated in many briefings on a variety of subjects related to food security at nongovernmental organizations, other government agencies, science think tanks, and local universities. I was able to hear speeches by the USAID Administrator, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of State at a variety of venues. The networking was amazing.

    I enjoyed the camaraderie of our cohort of Jefferson Science Fellows and we plan to stay engaged both at USAID and the State Department. I’m working on ways to improve communication among the past fellows using social media and networking tools.

    Professionally, I’m increasingly being called on to consult on various international projects and am being recruited for director positions in international programs at international centers and universities. I enjoy mentoring young scientists from developing countries and I plan to continue to conduct research and affect policies that improve food security.

    Stay tuned to the Feed the Future blog for future installments in our “Meet the Experts” series. 



    Blog reposted with permission from USAID. To view the original post please visit: