Auburn University fights world hunger with the Committee of 19

With more than 300 schools involved in Universities Fighting World Hunger, June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences, has created an initiative that influences more than just the Auburn community.

Henton was awarded at the White House for her part in starting the program. She has been a part of it since 2003, when a colleague asked her to look at a website a young professional was developing.

“Her idea was to develop a website that students would come to, to learn more about hunger,” Henton said. “Before I got out of the office someone asked if (Auburn University) would be interested in collaborating with them on this. We came back to campus and started learning more about the issue.”

Henton has had her fair share of causes come across her desk, but this particular one stood out to her because of the work she had been doing with the university task force on sustainability at the time.

Henton found an academic side of this initiative by talking with students about global and domestic hunger issues.

“When I sat and talked with students to see what it meant to them to contribute and pursue a sustainable world, I heard a lot of the environmental aspect, like climate change and global warming, and very little about the human side of hunger,” Henton said. “People need to take that side into consideration if they are going to try to stop hunger issues.”

Universities Fighting World Hunger has a two-part model to address the hunger issue, Henton said.

“We developed a model that had a short-term crisis intervention, which included the grassroots part, which the Committee of 19 currently runs,” Henton said.

The Committee of 19’s name comes from when the World Hunger Initiative first started and people only had to donate 19 cents to feed a child in a developing world, Henton said.

Another part of the model is the long-term approach.

“This calls for the university to be involved through its teaching, research and outreach,” Henton said.

Henton said there are many ways around campus to get involved and fight hunger, including participating in the Beat Bama Food Drive and joining a subcommittee of the Committee of 19.

“The subcommittees can develop a way they want to approach the issue, such as raising awareness, fundraising, collecting food for the East Alabama Food Bank, advocating for world hunger and learning how to contact the congressional delegates or members of the legislature here in Montgomery,” Henton said.

Henton said the ultimate goal is to end world hunger altogether, but many programs are being started in the meantime.

“Not only are we helping to feed hungry people in Montgomery and East Alabama, we are raising awareness and getting other universities on board to do the same thing in their respective locations,” Henton said.

Another goal of the program is to make more students aware about what the key issues are today and what they will be in the future, she said.

“One of the main reasons we’re involved in this is to build the next generation of global leaders,” Henton said. “Not only are we feeding millions of people collectively, we are also building the next generation of global leaders.”

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