COBE students, faculty discuss world hunger issues

World Food Day logo

Radford University students gathered in the College of Business and Economics (COBE) Building on Oct. 16 to mark the 33rd annual World Food Day.

To increase awareness and make the connection between poverty and hunger, two COBE students, Ben Kilgore and Dillon Shelton, made presentations on global and national food security.

Outlining what he described as five pillars of the zero hunger challenge, Kilgore, a senior economics major from Dandridge, Tennessee, said there is a need to:

  • provide 100 percent access to food and nourishment year-round
  • end growth stunting among children under 2 years of age
  • make food systems more sustainable
  • double productivity and income for smallholder farms
  • reduce food waste and post-harvest losses

Kilgore also estimated worldwide malnutrition costs at 3.5 trillion dollars. In addition, he said that under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies cost at approximately 2.1 trillion dollars.

Shelton, a sophomore management major from Knoxville, Tennessee, said that 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure and 46.5 million people in the country lived in poverty in 2012.

He pointed out that the poverty rate for children under age 18 was 21.8 percent and they accounted for 34.6 percent of all people in poverty.

Shelton described food stamps, a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC) and the national school lunch program together with earned income tax credit (EITC) and temporary assistance to needy families (TANF) as major national programs to combat the problems of poverty and hunger in the country.

Shelton urged the audience to donate to and work with the local food banks and get involved.

Associate Professor Kiert Toh served as event moderator and also spoke about family farms and their ability to feed the world.

Drawing on his extensive experience with USAID in Africa, Toh laid out some of the hard and soft constraints subsistence level farmers face in efforts to turn the production system into profitable enterprises.

Some strategic and policy implications emerging from Toh's presentation were to:

  • promote context-specific farm size
  • increase smallholder-friendly financing and investment
  • improve risk mitigation and adaptation strategies
  • encourage pro-small holder value chains
  • support productive social safety nets

World Food Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1979 and was first observed in 1981. RU began observing the day in 1991 under the guidance of Economics Professor Prahlad Kasturi.

Nov 12, 2014