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Drake to Lead State Anti-Hunger Efforts
as Part of USDA Program
November 15, 1999

While most Connecticut families are preparing for a Thanksgiving feast, there are those less fortunate who do not know what it's like to have a stocked refrigerator or pantry. From the cities to the rural countryside, there are thousands of children who've never experienced the satisfaction of feeling full after a nutritious meal.

Ironically, Connecticut is considered the land of plenty - a wealthy state where the per person income is the highest in the country. Yet 10 percent of its families are "food insecure" because they don't know where their next meal is coming from.

Food security is a major initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal of the program is to create and expand grassroots partnerships that build and expand local food systems and reduce hunger.

Recently, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman appointed Linda Drake, a cooperative extension specialist in nutritional sciences at UConn, as the community food security liaison for the state. Drake's new responsibility makes her the resource coordinator for all USDA-associated community food security programs and anti-hunger activities within Connecticut.

Her portfolio will be wide-ranging. "Most people tend to link hunger with poverty, but many other factors lead to food insecurity, including the safety of our food supply and our ability to grow the food we need," she says.

The range of underlying issues includes: skyrocketing farming costs, deficient education, environmental pollution, welfare reform, changes in economic conditions, poor nutritional choices, and lack of knowledge about food stamp eligibility.

With the assistance of the UConn Food Team - a group of experts representing several disciplines from within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources - Drake is sponsoring a seminar on food security on Friday, November 19, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, in Room 207 of the W.B. Young Building. The team hopes to make the academic community and the public aware of the need for increased education, public outreach and research about food security issues.

Among the invited guests are UConn faculty, state legislators, and members of several community groups. Drake says they're all potential players in establishing food security in the state. She hopes they will discover the interconnectedness of what each can do to overcome the issues.

There is much that can be done on campus to battle the problems, according to Drake. Faculty participation, for example, could take the form of research on the issues, basic policy analysis, or including discussions about food security issues in the curriculum, she says.

"The more we learn about the causes of food insecurity," she says, "the better able we'll be to come up with long-term solutions."

Gov. John G. Rowland has signed on to the USDA initiative and has committed the state to the goal of reaching food security for every Connecticut household by the year 2010.

Anyone interested in attending the seminar is asked to call Drake at (860) 486-1783.

Janice Palmer