Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Hunger Issues Forum Resources


Hunger Issues Forum 2012

On September 28, the Food and Agribusiness Institute (FAI), in partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank, hosted the 5th Annual Hunger Issues Forum.

There was a diverse crowd in attendance at this year's forum. It provided an open space for discussion among the attendees and helped circulate ideas to actualize goals for eradicating hunger. It was a successful event and provided a space for lively discussion that was enjoyed by all. The purpose of the forum was to identify trends as well as threats affecting current and future food security. The keynote speaker was Judi Larsen, program manager at the California Endowment. There were also many other featured speakers from different backgrounds who focused on how hunger can be addressed through various different ways.

The Hunger Index presentation was given by Dr. Drew Starbird, using research compiled by Cindy McCown, Michael Enos, Mahbod Parvar, and Lisa McMonagle. The Hunger Index is a measure of the need for food by the most vulnerable members of our community. It is important because it helps to monitor the progress of achieving our goals in eliminating hunger. The presentation highlighted that vulnerable households increased by more than seven percent and the need also grew by over eight percent. In comparison, food assistance grew by just over eight percent. The most growth was in the CalFresh (food stamps) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) programs. The Hunger Index demonstrated that households are spending less on food and using more food assistance. From this, we draw the conclusion that as a society, we need to work together to improve and provide more food assistance.

Another feature of the Food and Agribusiness Institute's research was the presentation on "The Real Cost of a Healthy Meal" (CHM) project by Courtney Robinson, Lisa McMonagle, and Mahbod Parvar. The study is made possible through the generous financial assistance of the Bank of America Foundation. It aims to study the long-term social, economic, and nutritional value of food for low-income families in the Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. This research continues to develop into a groundbreaking study. It concentrates on twenty-four hour dietary recall interviews and visits to local supermarkets for food pricing. From those two components an analysis can be done on dietary patterns, nutritional needs, and food costs. The combination of research and data has yet to be replicated elsewhere in the country, which is why it is important to continue. This research is made possible by the hard work of the student research assistants including Courtney Robinson, Mahbod Parvar, Lisa McMonagle, Nick Leasure, Brenda Alba, Jessica Tran, and Veronica Koo. Keynote speaker Judi Larsen, who serves as the program manager at the California Endowment, talked about the new changes that are happening with school-based feeding programs, for example, the push for providing healthier and more appealing school meals.

Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank spoke about the Food Bank's latest expansion and new business model. She highlighted that they are working to increase access to food stamps, where California ranks a dismal second-to-last in the nation in signing up eligible families. Those were just two of the many speakers who eloquently spoke about their respective organizations progress in action to strengthen Santa Clara County's hunger safety net. Thanks to all who made the Hunger Issues Forum possible!

Tags: FAI, Food and Agribusiness Institute, Hunger Forum, Leavey School of Business, Second Harvest Food Bank

Check out all the presentations, audio, and a video of the forum!

  • SHFBsmallSecond Harvest Food Bank

    Second Harvest Food Bank is a proud co-Sponsor of the Hunger Issues Forum.  Visit the SHFB website to learn more about its mission and involvement in ending hunger in the Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. 


Below are some photos from the 2012 Hunger Issues Forum!


Hunger Action Summit 2014

“Disrupt. Innovate. Inspire.” These were the words that faced the crowd during the 2014 Hunger Action Summit, and they were a perfect motto for the day. The summit, which has evolved from the Food & Agribusiness Institute’s Hunger Issues Forum, brought together hunger and nutrition activists from the Silicon valley and beyond, and was broken up into three different sections: Setting the Table, Upending the Table, and Clearing the Table. Instead of only focusing on the issues that we are faced with, this year’s summit aimed to initiate true steps and progress toward the alleviation of hunger.

During the Setting the Table portion, speakers presented the problem on different scales and from different angles. These presentations included The Hunger Index by Dr. Drew Starbird, which mapped the gap between the number of meals that are missing and the number of meals that food assistance providers give each year followed by a presentation by Dr. Deborah Frank, a prominent pediatrician, who spoke about hunger and the importance of nutrition in children. The next presentations included the Cost of a Healthy Meal project presentation given by FAI student researchers Selena Pistoresi, Lisa McMonagle, and Tess Gordon, which looks at the connection between expenditures on food and its nutritional value in Santa Clara County and a presentation by Cindy McCown that gave attendees of the forum a picture of what Second Harvest Food Bank is doing currently to confront hunger issues in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Together, these presentations laid the groundwork for the rest of the day by giving those in attendance an idea of the scale and scope challenges we face in combating hunger.

The second part of the day was titled Upending the Table and focused on what could happen if we made drastic innovations to our food assistance systems. The first presentation in this realm spoke to the unmet potential of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps or CalFresh). Kim McCoy Wade, the director of the Alliance to Transform Calfresh, spoke on current enrollment in CalFresh and different strategies for having more individuals enroll in the program, touching on the fact that despite the fact that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, it has the lowest participation rate in SNAP. The second presenter, Sumit Sadana, the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Sandisk, told the story of NGO Akshaya Patra in India, which gives out meals to over 1.3 million children every day. He implored those at the summit to imagine how hunger could be changed if a system like Akshaya Patra’s could be used here in the United States. The last presentation was given by Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. She relayed all of the new ways that SHFB is innovating to use Silicon Valley’s potential to alleviate Hunger. These new strategies include mobile applications and new methods of food recovery.

Lastly came the Clearing the Table portion of the day. This session was aimed at bringing change-seekers in attendance together to discuss and explore different ways to alleviate hunger. The topics here included CalFresh, Foodbank Innovations, and large scale feeding. This was the pinnacle of the day and where attendees were able to share their own ideas on how changes can be made to better alleviate hunger.  

This summit was the culmination of many ideas and strategies for disrupting the system, innovating new ideas, and inspiring change. It challenged attendees to use what they learned to make what changes they can and to come up with ways to impact hunger.


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