A secondary major in Global Food Systems Leadership offered at Kansas State University is preparing students to address the challenges of feeding a growing world population while exercising leadership in the areas of community engagement, sustainability, economics, entrepreneurship, policy, and food production and processing.
Established by the College of Agriculture and the Staley School of Leadership Studies in the spring of 2017, planning and curriculum development of the secondary major was made possible by a Frontier Farm Credit donation.
According to Dr. Mary Kay Siefers, director of Global Food Systems Leadership, the secondary major is unique because it teaches students to use a systems thinking approach when tackling nutrition, climate change, food insecurity and other global food challenges.
“Students are given an interdisciplinary outlook of the fundamental roles people, policies and cultures play in the global food system enterprise,” she says. “Our goal is to help students prepare for a diverse range of careers that require integrated knowledge of the global food system and the leadership capacity to skillfully intervene and change the system for good.”
Young leaders like Katheryn Gregerson, a junior in food science and global food systems leadership, are already working to make a difference through an on-campus food recovery program. On average, the student-led initiative recovers between 100 to 200 pounds of food per day from the Kansas State Performance Table, the student athlete dining center. The food is then redistributed to faith-based communities within the Manhattan area that offer free meals to the hungry and homeless.
"Since 2015, our Food Recovery Network student chapter collected over 20,000 pounds of recovered food. "
– Katheryn Gregerson
“Since 2015, our Food Recovery Network student chapter has collected over 20,000 pounds of recovered food,” says Gregerson. “It’s been cool to see the program grow and the big impact it has made for those in need.”
Reaching Rural Communities in Need
Another strategic way Frontier Farm Credit is working to break the hunger cycle is through a relationship with Harvesters Community Food Network mobile food pantry program.
“Hunger knows no boundaries, and in rural areas, different interventions are needed to reach those who aren’t readily served through the traditional pantry model,” says Jessica Kejr, director of programs and client collaboration initiatives with Harvesters.
“Through our mobile pantry distribution efforts, we work to alleviate hunger by increasing access to healthy and nutritious food, including fresh produce, dairy products and baked goods,” she says. “And thanks to the support of our partners, we are able to reach rural communities where other forms of assistance might not exist.”