Hunger pains get satisfied
By DAWNE LEIKER
In Ellis County, where individuals insecure with food make up more than 12 percent of the population, a series of events related to fighting hunger will launch Saturday and span three weeks.
"From Harvests to the Hungry," a collaborative effort of the Fort Hays State University Center for Civic Leadership, Forsyth Library, Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Ellis County Historical Society and Hays Public Library will get started with a Bob Boxes Food Packaging event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 710 General Custer, off Old U.S. Highway 40 Bypass.
The hunger-related events, which include roundtable public forums, film screenings and special Times Talks presentations, sprang from discussions between the five organizations as representatives sought a topic of mutual interest for collaboration.
"Over the weeks that followed, we found ourselves drawn more and more to the topic of food and the critical role Kansas has played as a breadbasket of the nation," said Shala Mills, member of the board of the Kansas Humanities Council, which has partnered with the Eisenhower library and the Kansas Town Hall Program. "We could see such great multi-disciplinary ties to the subject.
"The connection to the humanities was strong, but so was the connection to the Eisenhower Library and Museum's commitment to civic dialogue."
In addition, FHSU has brought focus to hunger issues the last few years by participating in the Kansas Hunger Dialogue, Numana food packaging events, Victor E. Garden, Tiger Food Exchange and a topics course, "Food and Politics," taught by Mills. FHSU students also will participate in the upcoming Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit in 2013.
"From Harvests to Hungry" will serve as an opportunity for Kansans to discuss public policy options for addressing food and hunger crises at home and abroad.
"It is an important way, too, for our students and faculty to give back to the community by sharing our expertise and insights into important issues affecting Kansans," Mills said.
"We're all very excited about this partnership and hope that the programming this spring will bring together good discussion from a cross-section of the community and region."
Kelly Nuckolls, coordinator of FHSU's American Democracy Project, and Global Leadership Project said organizers of the events identified specifics of statewide hunger issues through the Kansas Hunger Atlas, available online at www.kacap.org. Site statistics include specific counties throughout the state, as well as overall statewide data.
"They have everything for Ellis County, from food insecurity to single-parent homes, to poverty for every single county in the state of Kansas," Nuckolls said.
"It's really amazing. We plan on using some of that (data) throughout our project."
Other events throughout the week include:
* 6:30 p.m. Monday, Cody Commons, FHSU Memorial Union
Film screening of "What's for Dinner, Hungry Kids in America," and "Hunger Hits Home," with discussion led by Kansas Food Bank CEO Brian Walker.
* Noon Tuesday, Forsyth Library, and 6:30 p.m., Stouffer Lounge, FHSU Memorial Union
"Local Hunger: Ellis County and the Western Kansas area," special edition Times Talk featuring Randall Summit, director of the Kansas Division of the Salvation Army, and Brian Walker of the Kansas Food Bank.
* 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Forsyth Library, and 6 p.m., Hays Public Library
"The Face of Global Hunger," special edition Times Talk with Terry Wasinger from Heartland Farm and Rick McNary with Stop Hunger Now.
* 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Robbins Center
The Rising Cost of Food: A national issues forum roundtable discussion about the rising cost of food and the effect it has on the hungry.
Two other weeklong events will follow in February and April.