GW hosted the third annual University Hunger Summit, a three-day conference addressing world hunger earlier this month.
Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern gave the keynote address, drawing on personal experiences to talk about the need to help the starving.
“I felt compelled to do something (about hunger) was when I went to Central America and saw people who were starving … I have seen the face of hunger up close and personal,” he said.
He spoke about the McGovern/Dole food program, which supplies food to schools in developing countries, but has recently experience sharp budget cuts. He said working to solve hunger “requires good-minded people to band together, if we’re indifferent, it’s never going to change.”
GW’s Center for Global Health held the event in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme and Universities Fighting World Hunger.
Politicians and students are not the only groups working to help the hungry. Drew Barrymore announced on the Oprah Winfrey Show Monday that she was donating $1 million to the World Food Programme to feed school children in Kenya. The WFP hopes to feed 10 million African school children by Thanksgiving.
Universities Fighting World Hunger has chapters in more than 50 colleges, including American and Georgetown. GW does not have a chapter, but graduate students from GW’s Center for Global Health attended the $130 conference.
“We were asked by the WFP and the Alliance to End Hunger to hold this conference here in the nation’s capitol and partner with them to figure out how to improve and expand initiatives…the goal is to make this a more international initiative … not just a concentration in the U.S.,” said Ashleigh Black, assistant director of GW’s Center for Global Health.
This is the first time the event was held at GW, and the fourth Hunger Summit is schedule to be held again on campus. Black said she wants to better publicize next year’s event.
“We will be working throughout this year to increase visibility so more people can benefit of the knowledge,” she said.
The theme of the power of youth was present in many of the speeches during the conference. Former congresswoman from North Carolina Eva Clayton said, “I want to call on you that part of this fight is to fight for policies and programs and to sustain these. Each of you I encourage to be engaged . think of yourselves as citizens of the world.”
“A deeper engagement on the part of colleges is crucial to the progress that is possible against hunger,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “The main thing we need is public and political will. Student activism has been crucial for movements in the past.”
Several organizations tabled at the summit, including as Stop Hunger Now, which gets people to package food for developing countries, and The Great American Bakesale, which raises money to fight childhood hunger in the U.S. Students attended break-out sessions on topics such as food security and hunger advocacy.
Clint Curtis, a global health graduate student at GW, said, “There will be a lot of networking and listening to new ideas and seeing if there is consensus on goals and ideas that I agree on.”