ETSU PHSA organizing World Food Day effort

Contact: Brad Lifford
October 12, 2010

JOHNSON CITY – The Public Health Student Association (PHSA) at East Tennessee State University is doing its part this week to heighten awareness of a problem that plagues the region, the nation and the globe: hunger.

The PHSA is organizing activities this week in conjunction with World Food Day, which is being officially recognized Oct. 16. This day to focus on world hunger was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1979, and this year, organizations in more than 150 nations are expected to participate.

PHSA members are collecting donations of non-perishable food items through Friday, Oct. 15. Designated bins have been placed around campus for donations, which will be given to Good Samaritan Ministries, a faith-based ministry in Johnson City that helps those in need through education, mentoring and social services, including the delivery of food boxes and meals. The PHSA is a student organization for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students enrolled in the ETSU College of Public Health.

On Wednesday, PHSA will set up a display table to provide some context of world hunger. The table, which will be located on the patio terrace outside The Cave in the D.P. Culp University Center, will feature plates of food representing the caloric intake of countries in which people are chronically hungry, with contrasting plates that represent the typical American diet. Members will also hand out “Monopoly money” with hunger statistics, and a photo exhibit will illustrate the diet of people in various countries and the amount of money spent on food in a given week.

Cassandra Igbe, a graduate student in public health and a co-organizer of the event, said the PHSA wants to underscore the importance of World Food Day because of the stark statistics regarding hunger.

“It’s estimated that almost one billion people are hungry,” Igbe said. “But the issue doesn’t get as much attention as you would think when you consider the scope of the problem. We’re hoping the PHSA can do a small part to help people realize that there are a billion people in the world who aren’t getting the food they need.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 220 million people live in hunger in India, and more than 200 million go hungry in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mikki Johnson-Maczka, graduate president of the PHSA and a co-organizer with the undergraduate president, Aubrey Childress, said that even though hunger is most pervasive in developing countries, this region is affected as well.

 “Hunger is a global problem and it’s a local problem,” Johnson-Maczka said. “We hope to donate a substantial amount of food to the food bank, because the downturn in the economy has led to an increase in the numbers of people who need help.”