Lauren Bush at first "War on Hunger" summit

After more than a year developing a student-led "War on Hunger" campaign, Auburn University is inviting other universities to join its partnership with WFP by hosting the first War on Hunger Summit from 17-19 February at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center

After more than a year developing a student-led "War on Hunger" campaign, Auburn University is now inviting other universities to join its partnership with WFP by hosting the first War on Hunger Summit from 17-19 February at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center.

Lauren Bush, international fashion model, Princeton University student and spokesperson for WFP's War on Hunger Campaign, will speak at the summit on Saturday 18 February.

Other speakers include Peter McPherson, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, and Auburn University women's basketball coach Nell Fortner, the university's spokesperson for the War on Hunger.

Swell of interest

Students are becoming more keenly aware that a quality education involves an awareness of global issues and a commitment to making the world a better place

June Henton, College of Human Sciences Dean

The idea for the three-day summit came following a presentation by College of Human Sciences Dean June Henton, WFP Executive Director Jim Morris and two Auburn students at the annual meeting of the NASULGC in November 2005.

The presentation, "Universities Fighting World Hunger," outlined Auburn's War on Hunger campaign and caused a swell of interest by those attending the conference.

The positive reaction from that presentation motivated Henton to begin planning the War on Hunger Summit immediately.

Student movement

"The timing appears right for a student movement to address world hunger," Henton said.

"As the world shrinks, students are becoming more keenly aware that a quality education involves not only technical competence in one's chosen field of study, but an awareness of global issues and a commitment to making the world a better place."

Lead partner

In 2004, Auburn was selected by WFP, the largest humanitarian agency in the world, as its lead partner in establishing a model for a student-led War on Hunger campaign.

Since then Auburn has created The Committee of 19, a group of Auburn students that addresses the pressing issues of world hunger and malnutrition. The group's name is derived from the 19 cents a day it takes WFP to feed a hungry child.

The Committee of 19 has sponsored many events to draw attention to world hunger, including a banquet earlier this year where participants were served a small portion of soup in handmade bowls. The bowls were taken home by guests as a reminder of the millions of people who go to bed hungry each night.

Model for other universities

Hunger is not about an inadequate food supply, but about social inequities, conflict and war, political issues, and other factors that prevent people from having access to food

June Henton, College of Human Sciences Dean

Henton hopes that Auburn's work during the last year will serve as a model for other universities to begin their own programmes.

To date, representatives from 25 universities have made arrangements to participate in the summit, including Auburn, Colorado State, Emory, Florida A&M, Georgetown College (in Kentucky), Iowa State, Kansas State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Princeton, Purdue, South Dakota State, Tennessee State, Texas A&M, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Washington State.

Hunger banquet

The War on Hunger Summit will begin on Friday 17 February, with an Oxfam-style hunger banquet to symbolize the meagre amount of food on which most of the world's population subsists.

Participants will then hear from WFP representatives and Auburn's Fortner.

"Big picture" issues

Saturday 18 February will begin with a keynote address by McPherson, who will discuss the role of the university in addressing "big picture" issues such as hunger and poverty.

There will be a presentation on the AU Hunger model featuring both AU students and faculty who have led the campaign.

Bush will discuss her personal experiences as a WFP Ambassador for the War on Hunger. Also, Catherine Bertini will speak about the economic, political and social complexities of hunger.

Collective body

The summit's third and final day will focus on how universities can come together as a collective body to advance the war on hunger across the nation and around the world.

"Hunger is not about an inadequate food supply, but about social inequities, conflict and war, political issues, and other factors that prevent people from having access to food," Henton said.

"For American students, it is important that they understand that hunger is interrelated with many of our own national issues such as peace and security of our nation and world, health care and the environment."

Auburn University

Auburn University is a preeminent land-grant and comprehensive research institution with more than 23,000 students and 6,500 faculty and staff.

Ranked among the top 50 public universities nationally, Auburn is Alabama's largest educational institution, offering more than 230 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programmes.