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HungerU @ PSU

Posted: October 11, 2013

An advocacy group comes to Penn State to raise awareness of world hunger.

Where does every country rank when it comes to food security?

I’ll admit, I can get kind of whiny when I have nothing to eat during a long day of classes—and who doesn’t? But at least I know there will be plenty of snacks waiting for me back at my apartment when it’s all over with. As my textbook from my Intro to Agribusiness Management class read a year ago, the reason you don’t hear too much about the “agri-food system” in America is because it works so well! I have countless options as far as what and where I want to eat on a daily basis. Restaurants, supermarkets, farmer’s markets, or convenience stores, with all the choices in each, mean variety is never rare here. Sure, “poor college students” like myself will joke about having Ramen noodles frequently, but we all know we can easily obtain affordable, healthy, and filling foods whenever we want. HungerU (not to be confused with the legendary State College eatery, Are U Hungry), an awareness campaign for international food shortage, has been touring US college campuses this semester to help students consider how lucky we have it, how unfortunate others are, and the reasons behind it all.

A student visits the HungerU exhibit

On September 23-24, HungerU stopped by good old Penn State, and I got the chance to meet with these passionate advocates. Now I’ve been aware that millions of people around the world don’t have enough food, but seeing the estimates they provided from their tour bus was a little harrowing. For starters, I learned that although America is the most food-abundant country in the world, about 52 million of us still do not have an adequate supply—that’s one in six! Other countries struggle tremendously more so, especially in certain areas of Africa and Asia. One of the most unfortunate truths is that many of these countries have climates and geography that would be perfectly suitable for farming. However, because of corrupt governments, poor transportation abilities, neglect of storage space, and exhaustion of the land from bad farming practices, mostly preventable issues have had devastating effects for real people.

Cameron from HungerU talks to students

It’s not that less food-stressed countries such as the US haven’t been trying to help, either. Groups that promote new agricultural technologies and hunger relief like FFA and Universities Fighting World Hunger have been increasing efforts to support the world’s growing population. Even here at Penn State, we have researchers like Jonathan Lynch, who has been working to increase plant efficiency just for that purpose. There is hope, and according to the World Food Programme, the number of hungry people has decreased by about 156 million since 1990, and that’s in spite of the spike of 2 billion people! As HungerU puts it, it’s all about getting the right food to the right place at the right time. Easier said than done, but it can be done, and not only are Americans backing the cause, but in particular Penn State ag scientists like our very own faculty members and researchers.

Let's solve hunger and change the statistics

There will surely be plenty of opportunities and challenges for us in the fight against world hunger. For now, my friends and I can certainly help the cause by continuing to spread the word and being smarter about our own food consumption. 9 billion people by 2050—that’s the world you and I are likely to be living in. Hopefully we will continue to progress in winning this war, so in 30 years, hunger can be a memory.

--Frank