Purdue Fort Wayne to host Food Insecurity Summit

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Students at Purdue Fort Wayne are working to educate the community on what it means to be food insecure.

Food insecurity is an issue that isn’t easily seen but it does affect people here in Allen County and across the world. It is something students in PFW’s College of Professional Studies may come across in their careers so they’re putting on an educational summit so people can learn more. A 2017 report by Feeding America found that 13.3 percent of people in Allen County were affected by food insecurity. That number increases to 17.2 percent when narrowed down to children.

“It’s when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you have a hard time finding nutritious food for a low cost, food you can afford,” said Mara Williamson, a student studying early childhood education. She is also the fundraising chair for Kappa Delta Pi Undergraduate Teacher Preparation program within the School of Education.

The College of Professional Studies will be holding an educational summit in the Walb Student Union on Thursday, hosted by students from the School of Education, Department of Public Policy, Department of Human Services, and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism. The students chose to focus on food insecurity because they feel it is a serious issue that they all could encounter across their respective careers.

“Students were just very interested in looking at an issue that impacted students across our college as well as across our campus community that impacts our understanding of what it means to be either a teacher or somebody that’s working in public policy,” said Sharon Parnin, Clinical Asst. Professor for the School of Education.

A panel featuring community experts on food insecurity will discuss the subject and then people will have a chance to talk to our local organizations directly involved in fighting food insecurity like Community Harvest, Wellspring, and more.

“We thought that after our speakers are done speaking, the people will feel very empowered to do something about it right away, that’s usually how it works, so these community organizations will be there to answer any other questions that the people have,” said Williamson. “They could volunteer with these community organizations if they feel strongly.”

The panel will include Purdue Extension Office community wellness coordinator Jered Blanchard, St. Joseph Community Health Foundation community programs manager Laura Dwire, and Parkview Health lead community outreach registered dietitian nutritionist Kathy Werle. PFW Dept. of Human Services chair Professor Patricia Eber and Eric Manor, director of wellness and fitness and the Pantry at PFW will facilitate the discussion.

The summit will wake place in the Classic Ballroom in Purdue Fort Wayne’s Walb Student Union on Thursday. It is set to start at 6:00 p.m. and will last about two hours. It is free and open to the public.

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