February 9, 2016
A week of action on food security: The 2016 Engagement Symposium
Dear colleagues and students,
We, as a university, have a unique opportunity this spring to make a difference in an area that many of us care deeply — an adequate supply of safe, nutritious, and acceptable food for all. There are many on our campus, in our community, state, country, and world who do not have enough or safe and acceptable food.
When I think about how we can sustainably feed the future in the coming decades — both in the United States and around the world — I am excited for the role higher education and, particularly, Kansas State University can play in addressing this grand challenge. Access to safe and nutritious food is an issue that affects us all, and it’s an area that should unite us and bring together diverse partnerships that transcend sectors and academic disciplines. This is why I was proud to represent K-State at the United Nations last year to join a nationwide network of colleges and universities that are contributing to the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
As many of you know, the Presidents United to Solve Hunger, or P.U.S.H., Initiative that we signed in December 2014 encourages university leadership to develop a university-wide food security network that engages the issue through research, teaching, and outreach. Food security is a key strategic interest for K-State and a critical part of our mission as a land-grant university, and for that reason, faculty and students have engaged the issue in many ways —so now is the time to get started building this university-wide network.
On April 4, K-State will kick off a week of action on food security with the 2016 Engagement Symposium. This day of learning will bring together a diverse group of K-State faculty, national thought leaders, students, and community partners to discuss collaborative research, teaching, and innovative outreach strategies to address hunger and food insecurity in Manhattan, Riley County, and communities worldwide. In addition to the symposium, K-State will be hosting the 2016 Kansas Hunger Dialogue and participating in several other events throughout the week, including food packaging and mobile food distribution. In the coming week, I’d ask that you keep an eye out for additional information from K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development with more details about the symposium and the week of action as well as how you can contribute your work to the growing momentum to address food insecurity.
An important aspect and outcome of this year's Engagement Symposium will be to hear from as many as possible who are doing work in this area and begin to establish an organizational structure and goals for a K-State network to better support the work happening across our campuses and more effectively engage other institutions, industry, and the non-profit sector. After the symposium, I’ll work with the administration and partners across campus to find areas of alignment with the PUSH initiative and build a unique plan for Kansas State University — a shared vision that will drive our work on food security, maximize our campus efforts, and solidify a role for our institution as a nationwide leader in this area.
The goal is for various K-State departments and units to contribute to the effort through the momentum they’ve already established in this area — whether through research, teaching, engagement, or outreach and extension. I look forward to the many ways K-State will lead our community, state, country, and world’s progress against food insecurity.
Thanks for all you do!