The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is launching a new initiative, End Hunger/Feed Change (EHFC), to increase awareness and education around the topic of food insecurity. This hunger studies working group is composed of staff, faculty, and students from various departments and campus units who have come together to develop sustainable initiatives and policies to address hunger and lessen the effects of food insecurity.
According to a study across the UT System, 32 percent of college students are food insecure, lacking access to adequate and nutritious food. EHFC aims to lower that statistic by increasing awareness of the global problem of hunger through a themed year of programming and research.
This summer, the EHFC working group kicked off the year by hosting Vols Grow: Seed to Table, a summer grow-along program that includes a series of webinars on the process of food production, tools to grow and care for plants, and resources for food insecurity.
“We hope this summer program increases awareness of food insecurity and food justice issues in students and the wider community,” said Helene Sinnreich, associate professor of religious studies and member of the EHFC theme year committee. “Through increasing students’ knowledge of food systems, we empower them to take an active role in combating hunger.”
Students were able to request seeds throughout June, with an optional competition to see who can first succeed in growing their seeds to harvest. Successful growers will be recognized in an end-of-program webinar and on the End Hunger/FEED Change website.
On June 15, participants joined the first EHFC webinar, “Seed Starting and Plant Care,” where faculty and staff members explained how to properly grow and care for plants. A second webinar on June 23, “Enclosure to Insecurity: Understanding Modern Food Inequalities,” focused on food systems and causes of food insecurity.
EHFC will host the final webinar of the series, “Nutrition Programs,” at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 2. Participants will learn about balancing nutrition, recipe planning, and shopping. All webinars are open to the public. Visit endhunger.utk.edu to register for the upcoming session and view recordings of earlier webinars.
Katherine Griffin, a research assistant at the Center for Global Engagement and staff coordinator of the EHFC working group, encourages everyone to join future webinars and ask questions. “We will have information on not only plants but food systems, food justice, recipe planning and shopping, and cooking demonstrations.”
The pandemic puts both students and staff members at greater risk for food insecurity. Resources available at UT include the Big Orange Meal Share, Smokey’s Pantry, and the Office of the Dean of Students for support services.
Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)