MU symposium sparks conversation on "food justice"

Oct 18, 2012

Researchers and advocates focused on hunger will gather at the University of Missouri today for a national symposium.

Symposium participants call it "food justice" - the ability to have access to food security through non-emergency sources, and that was the main topic at Wednesday night's kickoff event for the symposium, Food Insecurity: Assessing Disparities, Consequences and Policies.

Patricia Allen, chair of the Department of Food Systems and Society at Marylhurst University in Portland, Ore., said America faces more food security crises than ever before, with more people going hungry. Allen said people most affected by hunger are the poor, whether they're extremely impoverished or just can't make it to the end of the month.

“We need to change people access to resources, access to power, and voices to create a system where there is no hunger in the first place," Allen said. "In the short term, we need to make sure every person living has access to healthy, fresh, tasty food.”

Sandy Rikoon, director of MU's Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, is coordinating the event. Rikoon said the national symposium brings in researchers and advocates from different sectors who rarely have the chance to talk to each other.

“So first is to talk to each other so the sociologists know what the nutritionists are doing and the nutritionists know what the social workers are doing," Rikoon said. "We try to break down these walls, so that we can take more holistic approach to the problem.”

The symposium continues through Thursday and Friday.