STARKVILLE, Miss. (Press Release) — Today, Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum and leaders from other universities around the nation signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security at the United Nations in New York City.
The event marks the international launch of Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), co-organized by the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Hunger Solutions Institute, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Board of International Food and Agriculture Development, the Zero Hunger Challenge, and the Alliance to End Hunger.
PUSH was created as the result of a first-time gathering between leaders of more than 30 universities in the U.S., Canada and Central America in February. Keenum was among the university leaders who were part of that historic decision. The UN ceremony today marks the first time universities around the world will share a collective focus on ending food insecurity. PUSH member institutions include land-grants, liberal arts, faith-based, historically black, and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities from five continents. Mississippi State is joined by fellow SEC members Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama.
“Land-grant universities have always supported the advancement of food security through research, teaching and outreach as part of their historical mission,” said Keenum, who served as chairman of the PUSH steering committee. “I am excited to see so many land-grants–from UC Davis to Cornell and Penn State–joining the PUSH movement. It is through this joint commitment, collaborative effort and sharing of best practices that we will be able to accomplish this ambitious–but achievable–goal of ending hunger.”
Keenum has made global food security a university research priority during his tenure at MSU. In speeches to diverse groups, Keenum reminds audiences that by the year 2050, the world’s population will increase from 7 billion to 9.5 billion.
“If food production does not increase significantly, the number of people living in poverty will increase greatly,” he said. “We are compelled to help feed the world and alleviate suffering, first, because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it is important to our national security. Mississippi State has been in the Top 10 nationally in agriculture-related research for 15 consecutive years, and we intend to continue that track record.”
MSU is engaged in formal partnerships with both the WFP and FAO to address global hunger and food security solutions. Keenum has also been appointed vice chairman of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack.