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!