The Human Rights Institute will be hosting its 12th annual International Human Rights Conference, Hunger: The Politics of Food, at Wilkins Theatre from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, March 22 to spread awareness about worldwide hunger and ways to prevent it. Moreover, the Human Rights Institute is an organization that prides itself on providing information, events and programs for human rights issues around the globe.
The Human Rights Institute brings notice to an increase in sustainable agriculture and declining food prices, which allow for food insecurity to expand. Food insecurity is the lack of access to good, healthy and culturally appropriate food. Unfortunately, there are many food insecure individuals that are affected by chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, which link to food insecurity.
Other factors of food insecurity include the following:
- Climate change
- Natural disaster
- Global food policy
Aside from learning about this issue, Tom Colicchio, award-winning chef, food policy activist, head judge and executive producer on Bravo Television’s "Top Chef", will be a featured speaker. For more information on Colicchio, students can visit the Kean website.
Additionally, Karen Washington, a leader in the urban farming movement and Kean alumna Lovely Randle '16, a researcher on the correlation of food desserts and childhood obesity will be discussing these concepts.
Valeria Dibrova, graduate student studying communication studies spoke of the events HRI hosts in an effort to spread awareness of issues.
"President Dawood Farahi, Ph.D. developed the idea of the Human Rights Institute at Kean University in his presidency and, with support from the Kean Board of Trustees, the Holocaust Resource Center and Kean community, launched both the institute and annual Human Rights Conference over 12 years ago," said Dibrova. "Every year since, we've made it our mission to provide students and community members with the information on current human rights issues confronting us today. As the president said, this year we're focusing on hunger. When you consider the statistics, you'll understand why."
In order for them to create a more just and peaceful community, Dibrova believes they need to know what problems are faced on a international and local scale.
"We are hosting a Human Rights Activities Week, which can be found on Cougar Link. In order for us to raise awareness among college students, we decided to create hunger awareness week to teach our student and colleagues what they can do to help end the hunger," Dibrova said.
As a solution, Dibrova believes that people need to change their own habits in order to help individuals around them.
"Well, in my opinion, we always need to start with ourselves. However, on a bigger scale, the support of local farmers and small agricultural businesses, especially women and indigenous people, can be very helpful. We also need to raise awareness because the more people know, the fewer people suffer," said Dibrova.
For students interested in this event, it is free but pre-registration is required. Guests can check in starting at 8 a.m., with lunch provided after the conference.