About the sponsor, the UC Global Food Initiative
President Emeritus Napolitano, along with Chancellors from the 10 campuses, launched the Global Food Initiative (GFI) in 2014 to address one of the most critical issues currently facing our planet and all of its inhabitants: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population. The multi-disciplinary initiative aligns the university’s research, outreach, and operations in a sustained effort to develop, demonstrate, and share solutions for food security, health, and sustainability throughout California, the nation and the world.
The GFI contributes and supports campus research and innovation through competitive project funding while building a systemwide network to collaborate and raise awareness of the global food crisis, agriculture and food systems sustainability, and human health. Through the generous support of President Emeritus Napolitano over the last six years and now President Drake, the GFI has funded more than 40 projects, many of which have developed into larger initiatives, while continuing to grow a systemwide network for collaboration. Across the system, the GFI has not only elevated awareness of the critical issues related to the global food crisis but has reached out to host organizations both locally and globally to effect important changes within their communities and organizations. Projects such as addressing student food security, auditing food waste on our campuses, developing curriculum on food literacy, sharing science and technology to develop community gardens, and connecting graduate students with international host organizations to collaborate on community projects, are just a few examples of GFI supported projects.
The GFI has convened UC researchers and food system leaders, produced toolkits, and created white papers and resource materials. A critical study on student food security that was the largest study of its time (2017), was funded by the GFI. The study quickly became a cornerstone in a national conversation to address student basic needs and in turn, led to the state of California allocating permanent funding. In addition to campus-level efforts, GFI has extended its reach on a global scale. Through projects such as the Global Fellowship for Agricultural Development (GFAD), or the bioregional efforts between UCSD and Mexico through UCSD’s Urban Agriculture and Food Disparities research and education initiative, the GFI efforts align with and measures, progress towards global sustainability goals as defined within the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.
Until very recently humankind has operated with a belief in the infinite availability of resources that has shaped our global vision and thereby ruled our behavior. There has been limited understanding of how the way we behave locally has global impact. The GFI program connects knowing with doing and has undertaken the concept of scaling as its core strategy intended to shape the learning, research and quotidian behavior of students, staff and faculty across the UC system. The GFI bears a strong message that the sustainable production and consumption of healthy foods among each individual directly contributes to the better health of the planet. In this vein, the GFI is honored to support and sponsor the Universities Fighting World Hunger 2021 student conference.