GhanaLEXINGTON, Ky. (July 12, 2012) — The University of Kentucky, in collaboration with 150 other institutions across the nation, is leading an effort to combat world hunger.

Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), a partnership program initiated by Auburn University and the UN World Food Programme, was founded to develop and implement action agendas for students and faculty across the globe. The program aims to increase hunger awareness, fundraising, advocacy and academic initiatives, to create a leading university community fully engaged in the effort to eliminate world hunger.

The University of Kentucky became involved with UFWH in 2005, when a group of faculty and students attended the first Hunger Summit, a weekend of hunger education and leadership development. Since then, UK has broadly integrated hunger issues into courses and established a school feeding program at the Kentucky Academy Kindergarten in Adjeikrom, Ghana.

Janet Mullins is one of the faculty members who initiated UK's partnership with UFWH. An associate extension professor in Dietetics and Human Nutrition, part of the School of Human Environmental Sciences within the College of Agriculture, Mullins said the program provides both service and educational opportunities for students.

"This is a UK project involving faculty, students, and volunteers," Mullins said. "Students help raise funds to support the feeding program, conduct research and learn how to be better global citizens."

In June, Mullins took a graduate student, her husband and son, and two Kentucky food service directors to Ghana for their third trip to support the school lunch program that Kentucky Academy Kindergarten set up in January 2011. The Kentucky Academy Kindergarten is sponsored by the School of Human Environmental Sciences.

UK students have been fundraising for the Ghana trip since World Food Day, October 16. The goals for this trip included building a drip irrigation system, allowing food to be grown throughout the year, and to collect qualitative research data about the impact the school lunch program has on student learning, attendance and behavior. 

"School meals have been shown to increase student attendance, especially by girls, and help communities make better use of their limited food resources," Mullins said.

Support from the Kentucky School Nutrition Association provided funds for the drip irrigation equipment and a gas stove, which will save time and money while providing a healthier cooking environment. Newly approved aid from the Ghanaian government that has initiated a school feeding program for the primary school in Adjeikrom and assistance from the sponsors in Kentucky have helped to meet the goals of the mission in Ghana.

"Our UK participation in Universities Fighting World Hunger has enriched student education by providing a meaningful international learning opportunity," Mullins said. "While many students study abroad, incorporating a focus on hunger helps them to become better global citizens."

Mullins added that the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Agents and Kentucky school food service directors work daily to increase access to healthy foods for all Kentuckians.

"By working together on this international project, it gives us all a greater appreciation of how fortunate we are to live in the United States,” Mullins said.

To learn more about UK's involvement in Universities Fighting World Hunger, contact Janet Mullins at 859-257-1812.