Provost April Mason, K-State’s senior vice president and an expert on nutrition and food security, sat down with students in the Honors House classroom yesterday evening to discuss pressing worldwide issues and what university students can do about them.
“Can you think about what that is? To not have a full refrigerator? Maybe to not have a refrigerator?” Mason said. “Food security is having enough food obtained in a socially acceptable way to meet the nutritional needs of you and your family.”
Hosted by Housing and Dining and K-State First, the Beyond the Classroom event was held as an open discussion where students were asked to delve into possible causes behind hunger.
“I haven’t met a rich guy who went hungry yet,” Xavier Capalla, junior in Spanish and biology, said. “If a family is able to provide for their basic needs, they won’t have to go looking for food in the streets.”
Mason further commented on the “socially acceptable” part of that definition, sharing stories of hungry families who resort to dumpster diving, scavenging in alleyways and begging for food. She spoke of families sharing a single egg six ways, a sobering tale after so many in the room were stuffed after a Thanksgiving of plenty.
“There are people here who don’t really know where their next meal is coming from,” Mason said. “I think that having a roof over our head and having a meal and having enough food to eat is something that is critically important to us. There are people who will wake up and won’t have breakfast.”
The event was centered not only around the extent of hunger and its impact, but on what students can do. Mason opened up discussion with students in attendance to see what they thought they could do about hunger.
“I always try to eat what I have on my plate,” Hope Gates, freshman in animal science, said.
Mason said she is passionate to help students understand that they can do to make a difference in the problem that is food insecurity.
“We have enough food, but does everyone have enough food?” Mason said. “It’s hard for us to acknowledge that people are food insecure.”
Mason confirmed the link between poverty and hunger as well as an even more complex link between poverty, hunger and obesity.
“Poverty is like an onion,” Mason said. “You peel away one part and get to another part. You can’t get to the heart of it because there are so many layers.”
Mason’s passion about the issue was uncontested from those in attendance.
“I was really pleased with how great of a job Provost Mason did presenting something that’s often overlooked here in the states, and how she’s very passionate about getting the word out about food security issues here in the U.S.,” Capalla said.
Overall, those in attendance walked away with a wider perspective on the global hunger issue.
“We’re trying to illustrate that learning happens everywhere,” Greg Eiselein, K-State First director and professor of English, said. “We’re trying to get faculty to get here and talk about their area of expertise, about things they’re passionate about.”