Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
About two billion people in the world do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. A world with zero hunger is a key piece of building a better future for everyone. But a multi-dimensional approach is needed to ensure food security for all — from ensuring proper distribution and protection, to transforming food systems to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable world, to limiting food waste and supporting local farmers — everyone can play a role in helping to eliminate hunger in their own way.
Sustainable Development Goal #2 explores several ways communities (big and small) can help fight hunger, improve nutrition and make more sustainable food choices. At the University of Minnesota, agricultural research and state-wide outreach work is at the heart of the University’s land-mission. This includes providing programs across our campuses and our state to decrease food insecurity, reduce food waste, and promote more nutritional and sustainable food options, partnering with farmers and food producers to develop best practices and share knowledge that will help improve not only the end product but the environmental impact of their work, and educating future generations of students to be hunger fighters in their communities and aware of food insecurity and its ties to sustainability worldwide.
RESEARCH AND EXPERTISE
OUTREACH AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Share Food Security Knowledge
Below are just a few of the University outreach programs where a key component is to share food security knowledge with the community.
Operated by the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum strives to be a leader in sustainability and horticultural best practices by sharing examples of sustainable practices and dynamically teaching these practices to Minnesotans.
UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) supports research and outreach on passive solar greenhouses which are designed to extend small- and mid-scale farmers’ growing seasons and limit the amount of fossil fuel required to grow crops during cold winters.
Extension’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program focuses on securing traditional Ojibwe food systems by building and strengthening capacity of diverse networks of community members, Tribal and natural resource professionals. This work includes a number of published resources related to the stewardship of lands and water as well as gathering wild grown plants for food and medicine.
Free Events for Farmers and Producers
Below are just a few of the programs targeting local farmers and food producers.
UMN Extension and CFANS regularly partner to offer free field days for farmers, consumers, businesses, and others who are interested in learning about new winter annual and perennial crops that offer ecosystem benefits. The Forever Green Initiative focuses on developing new crops to ensure agricultural production to strengthen economies while protecting water and other resources.
UMN Extension's Local Foods College is a free interactive distance learning opportunity for gardeners and farmers interested in community-based food systems. During Covid-19, a special "Rapid Response" series was developed to help small farm and food communities connect, network and share information.
Organized by the UMN's Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, "Blazing Trails" is a project that brings free workshops about local food regulations to every part of Minnesota. The goal is to ensure the entire state has access to information and resources about how to navigate food regulations to help individual food entrepreneurs and local food systems move forward.
Facilities Open to Farmers and Producers
Several University of Minnesota programs provide public access to university facilities and technology to improve sustainable farming practices. A few examples are provided below:
UMN is home to 10 Research and Outreach Centers in communities throughout Minnesota. The centers support needs-driven research to enhance agricultural production. Significantly, each individual center focuses on regionally relevant agricultural research.
The Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships pairs communities throughout Minnesota with UMN Extension to advance sustainable food and agriculture systems based on input from 5 regional community boards. Scroll down the page to see the Food Systems programs currently being implemented. Note the ability of members of the public to submit idea briefs for RSDP support.
The UMD Land Lab serves as an incubator for solutions-based research to meet community needs in addition to being a demonstration site for sustainable agricultural practices.
EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
UMN POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATION
Campus Food Waste
Programs Related to Student Food Insecurity
Nearly one in five University of Minnesota Twin Cities students worry whether they will run out of food before they have money to buy more, or have run out of food in the past year. There are a number of programs that monitor and address student food insecurity at UMN campuses. Several of them are highlighted below:
The SNAP for Students Coalition, led by the School of Public Health, is a statewide working group for college and university stakeholders to share resources and gain new information related to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) access for college students.
The College Student Health Survey (CSHS) measures eight key areas: Health Insurance and Health Care Utilization, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Use, Tobacco Use, Personal Safety, Financial Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity (including food insecurity prevalence data), and Sexual Health. Note: Results are published every three years with the latest being from 2021.
University-Based Hunger Interventions for Students and Staff
Being aware of the issue and having programs that monitor and develop potential solutions to student food insecurity is one thing but UMN campuses are also addressing the immediate needs of students and staff with several hunger intervention programs. Several of these programs are highlighted below:
Boynton Health’s Nutritious U Food Pantry provides fresh and healthy food to students who struggle to get enough to eat.
Champ’s Cupboard is a free food shelf offered to all UMD students. Students can pick from a variety of non-perishable items including rice, pasta, soups, sauces, and vegetables.
University of Minnesota Rochester has a variety of food resources options for students including a local food resource guide, an on campus food pantry, a Food 411 mailing list and SNAP program information for students.
As part of Swipe Out Hunger's nationwide effort to combat college student hunger, each semester UMN students with meal plans can donate up to three guest meal swipes online or in person at Swipe Out Hunger drive tables in the UMN dining halls. The donated meal swipes are distributed to students who struggle to get enough to eat.
Campus-Based Sustainable Food Choices
All campuses have a commitment to sustainable food choices. Sustainable choices include sustainable sourcing, local food sourcing, vegetarian and vegan choices among others.
The Twin Cities campus has a broad commitment to providing sustainable food choices including ensuring foods are sourced responsibly, food waste is minimized and leftover food is donated when possible. Check out the latest offerings from Chartwells, the U's dining vendor, at the Sustainable UMN website below.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. This particular STARS report highlights UMD's plant-based food and beverage purchases from July 2018-June 2019.
The Morris campus is a founding member of the Pride of the Prairie which promotes local use of foods grown in west central Minnesota. Additionally, the Morris Healthy Eating project, funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, is working to expand the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits on campus, within the city of Morris, and in Stevens County.
Campus-Based Healthy and Affordable Food Choices
Across the UMN system campuses, there are a wide-variety of healthy and affordable food choices for students.
At the University of Minnesota-Duluth, the dining services website has information on dining locations and information on how menus are labeled with food allergy and dietary preferences (vegetarian, vegan, pork).
The Twin Cities Dining Location & Menus homepage shows the current locations for residential dining. Clicking on the locations will pop up menus categorized for vegan, vegetarian, whole grains, eat well, and plant forward options. A meal calculator is also provided.
The Crookston campus uses the SodexoMyWay website to help students make informed food choices. Click on a meal to find menus including calorie and nutritional content and dietary allergy and preference information (vegan, vegetarian, mindful). The nutrition calculator supports informed dietary choices.
University and Vendor Commitments to Related to Sustainable Food Sourcing and Purchases
Sustainable food purchasing, including from local farmers, is an integral part of the University's plan to reduce food waste while ensuring the UMN community has access to high quality and desirable foods.
On the Morris campus, they focus on eating locally sourced, sustainable and healthy food. They are a founding member of the Pride of the Prairie, one of the longest-running local food efforts in Minnesota higher education, which promotes local use of foods grown in west central Minnesota.
The UMD Land Lab is a food justice and environmental research and outreach center located just five miles from the UMD campus. It consists of 10 acres of actively-managed transitional organic farmland and a five-acre apple orchard and produces thousands of pounds of produce for Duluth campus dining services.
The UMN Campus Club is a Twin-Cities campus, member-based restaurant that prides itself on sourcing locally grown and produced foods. Food partners include both on-campus (Cornercopia and U of M Dairy) and a number of local food businesses and cooperatives.