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Feb. 19, 2014

Feeding the world

Feb. 19, 2014

I’m starving. How many times have you uttered those words? I know I have countless times in my life, yet it was never really a true statement. I glibly said that when I really just meant, “I’m hungry” and lunch or dinner was usually just around the corner. Sure, there have been times in my life when my cupboards were a little bare or I didn’t have tons of money to go grocery shopping, but I’ve certainly never been close to actually starving.

When I was growing up, there was breakfast every morning, a sack lunch to take to school, snacks when I came home and dinner with my family every night (well, until my sisters and I got older and extracurricular activities took over our regular schedule).

As a parent, I tried to do the same for my daughter, though I’ll admit I don’t do nearly as much home cooking as my mom and dad did. But still, my family has never been without food.

We’ve never had to know true hunger, where food has to be rationed and your body starts to decline from a lack of nutrients. We’ve never had to wonder where our next meal was coming from or if our crops would sufficiently last through the season. We’ve been blessed to never suffer through a famine or watch our loved ones die of malnutrition. We’ve always had food available to us.

Yet every day, food security is a very real concern for families all around the globe. Different from food safety, food security is the phrase used to describe the condition related to the ongoing availability of food. I’ve seen it up close and personal in places like Rwanda, Tanzania and Malawi. I know there are families in my own community who struggle to feed their families.

According to studies, the population of the world is expected to reach nine billion. To feed a population that size, food production will need to increase by 70 percent to 100 percent. That’s a pretty startling statistic.

Because MSU is never one to sit by and let someone else solve the world’s most challenging problems, Spartan researchers are working with key stakeholders around the globe to improve livelihoods through innovative research and sustainable solutions.

The university is working with partners like USAID and the Feed the Future Innovation Labs. Two of such labs, the Legume Innovation Lab and the Food Security Policy Innovation Lab, are located at MSU. Tonight the MSU Peace Corps Office is teaming up with USAID and Feed the Future Innovation Labs to host MSU, Peace Corps, USAID: How Spartans are Feeding the Future, which will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 115, International Center. Read more about the event>>

Sarah Kopper, a graduate student in agriculture, food and resource economics and University Distinguished Fellow, came to MSU to study food security because of MSU’s strength in that area. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Finding a Good Fit, to learn more about why she chose MSU and what she’s working on now in Myanmar.

James Kelly, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, is part of MSU’s Legume Innovation Lab. He has been breeding new varieties of beans for more than 30 years and has been working in Rwanda to improve crops and train future plant breeders. I was fortunate to be able to watch him work in Rwanda last year and what he does is pretty incredible. Check out his FACULTY VOICE: Planting Rwanda’s Future, and watch the video to learn more about his research.

Kopper and Kelly are just two examples of Spartans working hard to solve the problem of food security. MSU researchers are working on campus and all over the world every single day to improve agricultural production and reduce poverty.

Read more about this important work in the MSUToday FEATURE: Spartans Feed the World.

As I sit here typing while I eat my yogurt, crackers and apple for lunch, I think of so many of the children I met last year like the ones in the photo above. They lined up quickly, eager to have one cup of beans and rice for their lunch. I have no idea if that was the only meal they’d get that day or not, but I’m certain my food security is much, much stronger than theirs. And that has to change. Here at MSU, we’re up for the challenge.

Spartans Will.


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday

Photo of lunchtime in Naitolia, Tanzania by Lisa S. Mulcrone


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