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Friday, March 1, 2013

Defeating hunger in Robeson begins at UNCP summit

By Kean Spivey

On January 26, UNC Pembroke held its first Hunger Summit to address and combat the issue of hunger in Robeson County.

Aaron Wilson, a UNCP graduate student addresses the first Hunger Summit

Aaron Wilson, a UNCP graduate student addresses the first Hunger Summit

Black Line

Held at UNCP’s Regional Center, the summit was open to the community and students who were invited to share ideas. Keynote speaker Jan Rivero, university program director of Stop Hunger Now of Raleigh, said students can change—and have changed—the world.

“Students sometimes feel overwhelmed by the situation like they can’t do anything about it,” Rivero said. “But, most of the major shifts in the movement have begun with college students. All you have to do is care enough to change the reality.

“I challenge you to let this day help you begin building the vision and passion to do something,” Rivero said.

The event was organized by English professor Scott Hicks; sociology professor Brooke Kelly; Christie Poteet, associate director for community service; biology professor and coordinator of the sustainable agriculture minor Deborah Hanmer; social work professor Veronica Hardy; education professor Karen Stanley; Emily Locklear of UNCP’s Sustainable Agriculture Program and Aaron Wilson, a graduate student.

“Hunger is a real issue that affects everyone. It does not discriminate,” Wilson said in opening the summit.

“We are here today to combat the issue of food insecurity and hunger by exchanging ideas and seeing how each of our different strengths can be used to put these plans into action,” Wilson said. “We want to know how UNCP can help make these ideas a reality.”

Several ideas and issues emerged in two work sessions. Some began with addressing hunger on campus.

Dr. M.J. Raleigh, director of the Counseling and Testing Center at UNCP, proposed a food pantry at UNCP to combat hunger with college students and the community.

“No matter where I’ve worked, I have seen hunger,” Dr. Raleigh said. “I want to get students excited about having a grassroots movement on campus that can help with the issue.”

Dr. Raleigh’s goal is to have this pantry implemented by fall semester 2013. She will work to get the food by connecting with local farmers, parents and students. She also wants people to be able to get access to the pantry anonymously.

Justin Duncan, an environmental science major, proposed that UNCP start a community garden.
 
“It’s all about learning how to get back to the land and knowing the proper foods to grow,” Duncan said.

Other plans discussed included getting the word out about free meals offered by local churches, teaching school children how to grow their own foods, creating a centralized database to gather more ideas from the community and starting a workforce development program to help those in need gain education, internships and employment.

Rivero set the tone for the event, saying “hunger is hell.” Stop Hunger Now has been dedicated to the issue for 14 years and has put out millions of packaged meals to those in need.

“Hunger is not an issue; it is not a problem,” Rivero said. “Hunger is an unnecessary evil” that results from natural disasters, war and poverty traps to deforestation and over-cropping.

Rivero said enough food is produced to provide 4.3 pounds of food to each person a day, but more than 30 percent of the food for human consumption is wasted every day.
 
Rivero went on to add that one in seven people suffers from malnutrition, and more than 25,000 people die from hunger-related issues each day.

Stop Hunger Now has been delivering packaged meals to medical clinics, shelters, orphanages and school feeding programs all around the world.

According to Rivero, every person involved with the Hunger Summit can make a difference to the cause.

For more information about UNCP’s hunger initiative, please contact Dr. Brooke Kelly at 910.775.4038 or email brooke.kelly@uncp.edu.

Kean Spivey is a senior mass communication major. He also took photographs for this article.

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