U of G to Host Global Hunger Summit

January 03, 2011 - News Release

People from all walks of life and from all over the world intent on finding ways to combat global hunger will soon be converging at the University of Guelph

U of G is hosting the sixth annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit Feb. 25 to 27. It’s expected to bring more than 400 people to campus, from university students and faculty to government and aid workers, politicians and social activists.

This is the first time the event has been held in Canada.

“Admittedly, world hunger is not a topic many ponder this time of year,” said U of G president Alastair Summerlee, who is co-hosting the summit. “In fact, around the holidays people tend to worry more about eating too much. But it’s important to remind people that nearly a billion people in the world don’t get enough to eat.”

Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. “It’s hard to get one’s head around the fact that so many people are malnourished, especially in a world where we produce more than enough food to feed everyone,” Summerlee said.

Gavin Armstrong, a fourth-year commerce student and member of the Board of Governors and summit co-host, agreed it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem.

“It’s difficult to even know where to start trying to help, especially for university students who are thinking: ‘I am just one person, how can I make a difference?’" he said.

“We want to build a network of students and others around the world who are dedicated to ending the war on hunger — get them committed to fighting hunger in any way that they can.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Hunger Has No Boundaries.” Summit participants will include Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, former vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana; Dave Krannenberg, executive director and founder of Meal Exchange; and David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada. Presidents from at least six Canadian universities will also attend.

The event will include a special president’s dialogue and panel discussions on the role of NGOs, government, academics, corporations, media and others in combating hunger.

Early-bird registration for Canadian university students is $60, including the conference and all meals. The cost for general participants is $150.

Universities Fighting World Hunger is an alliance of higher-education institutions. It started in 2004 as a partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme and now involves more than 150 universities.

“Universities are perfectly positioned to play an important role in the fight against hunger,” said Summerlee. Students have the energy and enthusiasm to take on such a challenge, and professors and researchers have the skills and knowledge to help find solutions, he said.

“Universities can have positive impact on millions of people. At U of G, our students, faculty and staff already cross borders as teachers and volunteers. They are researching, sharing knowledge and learning to understand others. Addressing world hunger should know no boundaries either.”

Register online at www.uoguelph.ca/worldhunger.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or dhealey@uoguelph.ca.

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