Missouri can lead the way to a food secure future

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MARSHALL STEWART, University of Missouri Extension

In Missouri, where agriculture is the largest industry, Missouri can be a strong leader in ensuring food security for all Missourians.

In essence, food security means no children going to bed hungry, and no adults having to choose between buying needed medicines and putting food on the family table. To do.

In October, the University of Missouri System hosted the 2022 Extension and Engagement Week. Each year, MU works with university partners and stakeholders across the state to address major challenges to improve the lives of Missourians. To date, we have addressed the need for rural broadband access, workforce development, health access and equity.

Initiatives with real-world impact emerge from these week-long in-depth studies. This year, I was particular about food.

We looked at food system challenges, issues and opportunities including production, distribution, value-added agriculture, nutrition and access. All of these are very important to the health of each of us and the planet.

Food security is at the heart of this complex network. How can we work together to ensure that people around the world have enough to eat so they can be healthy and contributing members of society?

Again, one of the nation’s top food producing states, 11.4% of all Missourians are food insecure, including 14.1% of children. Some counties require one child of her in three.

You can’t sustain a truly prosperous economy at any level, you can’t have a good education at any level, and you can’t stay healthy at any level if people are food insecure. You can not.

There is no single solution to these problems. It takes us all to find the answer.

To that end, the MU Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security’s Food Systems Network brings together a variety of partners to help build strong and resilient community-based food systems within and outside Missouri. is useful for They welcome your opinion.

Resources such as the interactive All Things Food Story Map can help you better understand the links between Missouri’s food system and food insecurity. The Missouri Hunger Atlas helps pinpoint the degree of food insecurity in all of Missouri’s 114 counties and the city of St. Louis down to the census tract level.

MU and its partners are also taking action.

  • The new statewide food systems faculty position will help identify and coordinate partner and interdisciplinary work to address Missouri’s food system challenges.
  • Our 4th Annual 4-H Feeding Missouri Food Drive (along with Feeding Missouri and Missouri Farmers Care Drive to Feed Kids) will raise 800,000 meals through food and monetary donations and volunteer hours by May 1st. We aim to raise the equivalent.
  • The Missouri 100, an advisory group of UM System leaders, donates $10,000 to each of the UM System’s four campus student food pantries. This gift, combined with Hogs for Hunger donations from this year’s Missouri State Fair, has achieved more than half of the 4-H Feeding Missouri Drive goal.
  • Finally, state leaders’ investments in MU extensions have helped fill nearly 80 vacancies in various stages of the recruitment process. Nearly all will hold county positions in 4-H Youth Development, Nutrition and Health, Human Development, Animal Husbandry, Agriculture, Dairy, Horticulture, Agricultural Engineering, Natural Resources, Community Health and Labor, and Workforce Development.

We are excited about this growth.

Whether addressing broadband access, workforce development needs, health equity for all, or nutrition and food security, the mission of our college land grants is to: It inspires us to empower people and communities in our country and across our planet. That’s how we best serve Missouri and give Mizzou.

Marshall Stewart is Chief Engagement Officer for the University of Missouri System and MU Vice President for Expansion and Engagement.

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