Inaugural Buckeye Summit Tackles Food Security

April 13, 2016

Mobilizing Buckeye Nation to help solve the complex issue of food security, The Ohio State University hosted the Buckeye Summit on April 14 at the Ohio Union.

Described as an interactive town hall meeting, the inaugural event brought together 600 field experts, university leaders, faculty, staff, students and other volunteers from Buckeye Nation to view presentations and find solutions in break-out table discussions.

Small groups reviewed the issue through the following lenses:

  • Health, nutrition and human development
  • Food, farming and the environment
  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Food policy

Ohio State should be commended for assuming a leadership role on this issue, said keynote speaker Dr. Catherine Woteki, chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics with the United States Department Of Agriculture.

Food insecurity has been identified as a target in President Michael V. Drake's 2020 Initiatives.

"In this room are people who can make a difference," Dr. Drake said.

Ohio State will invest $125 million in food security over the next decade, said Dr. Bruce McPheron, interim executive vice president and provost.

Facts shared during the summit included the following statistics:

  • An estimated two million Ohioans are among the 800 million undernourished people worldwide.
  • More than one-third of rural Americans live in poverty and thus are more likely to live in  "food deserts," areas that lack access to healthy food.
  • An estimated 25-45 percent of food grown, processed or transported is wasted in the United States each year.

"This is the first time in our country that it is cheaper to be fat," said Dr. Shelden Retchin, chief executive officer of Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center and executive vice president of health sciences. "Obesity is not a sign of wealth. It is a sign of poverty."

In addition to doctors Drake, McPheron, Retchin and Woteki, attendees heard from Dr. Jill Clark, assistant professor from the Glenn College of Public Affairs; Jim Smith, Ohio State's senior vice president of alumni relations, Dr. Patricia Cunningham II, director of social change in the Office of Student Life; Diana Aviv, chief executive officer of Feeding America; and Matt Habash, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

The event coincides with National Volunteer Week.

Find more information here.