Hunger Dialogue tackles campus hunger issues
More than 150 participants from 16 Kansas educational institutions gathered at the Hyatt Regency Wichita in February for the 4th Kansas Hunger Dialogue – the group’s largest hunger awareness event to date.
The Kansas Hunger Dialogue, organized by Kansas Campus Compact, is designed to increase awareness, advocacy and action to combat hunger through the sharing of research, best practices and model programs. Participating institutions met Wednesday, Feb. 26, to prepare strategies and take action against hunger in campus communities.
This year’s event emphasized the use of modern technology to engage communities. Keynote speakers included Robert Egger, founder and president of L.A. Kitchen, and Cindy Jones-Nyland, executive vice president of Marketing and Resource Management at Heifer Project International.
Prior to the dialogue, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, the group of volunteers gathered to package nutritional meals for donation to the Kansas Food Bank. In 1 1/2 hours, the group assembled 5,000 macaroni and cheese meals, fortified with protein and vitamins, for local distribution.
Shocker volunteers at the event included students, faculty and administrators. WSU Vice President of Academic Affairs Tony Vizzini was on hand as well.
Wichita State University Professor Deborah Ballard-Reisch, Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication and one of the planners of the event, founded WSU’s Hunger Awareness Initiative after the January 2010 Haiti earthquake as a small-scale effort to fight hunger, but the program grew into a model of success that is spreading to college campuses around the world.
“I looked at the mission of WSU, and it made sense,” she said. “We’re in the right kind of context to engage our community and invite people to come to our campus to help make a difference.”
Since its inception, the initiative’s foundation has been grounded in scholarship and research. It resulted in a model for other institutions to follow.
The Kansas Hunger Dialogue was developed in 2011 with the goal to build agreements among institutions statewide to integrate hunger awareness, advocacy and action. What emerged was a consensus that Kansas could and should take steps to create awareness, action and advocacy to eliminate hunger at home and abroad.