HungerU Educates on Food Insecurity

There are approximately 52 million Americans who are considered hungry due to lack of food security here in the United States. Hunger kills more people in the world than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. These were just some of the shocking facts you could learn from the black HungerU truck parked on Gleeson Plaza Oct. 2 and 3.


HungerU is a mobile education unit that travels to schools and festivals to educate people about food insecurity in the United States, an initiative of the Farm Journal Association. While on campus, HungerU volunteers encouraged students passing by to take the “HungerU” challenge, a six-question quiz that tests your knowledge of farming and food security in the United States, with the opportunity to answer an additional question for a prize.


Isreal Haile, a junior critical diversity studies major, saw HungerU while leaving the library. Being from South Dakota, which is primarily farm land, she said food insecurity “definitely wasn’t uncommon” where she lived.


Haile noted one of the questions which asked how many people the average farmer feeds per day. “It was 25, which surprised me because I honestly thought it was more,” she said. “It was nice to learn about agriculture and what we need to do for food.”


Mary Liese was in charge of inventory and communications for HungerU. She said because there are only four people on tour with HungerU, she worked a little bit on every responsibility.


“We try to engage with students, get them talking about food security, and seeing what they know, and trying to make it a fun atmosphere for them to ask questions,” said Liese.


HungerU also personalizes their donations. Liese said they do research prior to their stop to connect with a local food pantry or student-led organization. The money is donated by HungerU’s sponsors, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Corn Growers association and Food Par. The chosen food charity is the recipient of a meal’s monetary value for every quiz taken at that location.


The USF organization that HungerU donated to was USF’s Food Recovery Network club (FRN), co-led by junior Maggie Sugarman. The FRN will receive the meal values from quizzes taken at USF.


“We feed at least 250 people per week based off of the food waste at USF,” Sugarman said. The club goes to the cafeteria and recovers leftover food two nights per week. Then, club members serve it to homeless in the Tenderloin, Mission and other various locations throughout the week. Additional contributions come from farmers markets and San Francisco wholesale produce, which gives the club “at least 300 [lbs] per week” of foods. Last semester, the club recovered 8,500 lbs of food, according to Sugarman.


“We’re here to advocate for hunger as well as we are to get rid of food waste,” Sugarman said. She hopes that the partnership with HungerU will make the club more productive as far as funding goes. “Our organization doesn’t get a lot of funding, and we don’t need a bunch, but it means a lot to have somebody work with us and give us what we need,” Sugarman said.


Freshman English major Sarah Leonardo heard about HungerU in her rhetoric class. The class talked about the lack of food security in areas of the United States, despite the abundance of food, so she decided to check out the unit. “It was actually very surprising because I thought I knew more about food and agriculture, but I guess I didn’t know as much as I thought I did,” Leonardo said.

Featured Photo: A HungerU representative chats with a student about agriculture, while two others take the six question quiz. Courtesy of HungerU.


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