WASHINGTON — Recently the White House welcomed 11 Champions of Change who have committed themselves to strengthening food security in the U.S. and around the world. Today, almost 1 billion people do not have access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food, and 16 million children in the U.S. experience food insecurity each year.
Using innovative approaches, these people strive to ensure that no man, woman or child goes hungry and inspire others to do the same.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
•Sally Allocca, Birmingham, Ala. — Reverend Sally Allocca is the founder and executive director of Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources. For the past 20 years, she has also served as pastor of East Lake United Methodist Church. P.E.E.R., Inc’s projects include running the East Lake Farmers Market, the East Lake Community Kitchen, and the East Lake Mobile Market. These programs increase food security and improve nutrition for those in need, especially children and senior adults, in the eastern area of Birmingham, Ala.
•Terrol Johnson, Sells, Ariz. — For more than 15 years, Terrol Johnson has been creating innovative responses to epidemic rates of nutrition-related disease in the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. As co-founder and president of Tohono O’odham Community Action, he has led efforts to build a tribal food system that provides healthy, culturally-appropriate foods in one of the poorest communities in the U.S.
Walk. In 2009-10, Terrol walked from Bar Harbor, Maine to his home in Sells, Ariz. to bring awareness of how Native American families and communities can take control of their health by embracing tribal and other healthy foods.
•Joshua Williams, Miami Beach, Fla. — Joshua Williams is a middle school student at Ransom Everglades School in Miami, Fla. At the age of five, Joshua became passionate about helping those in need. Almost seven years later, Joshua and his organization, Joshua’s Heart Foundation, along with many volunteers, is working to stomp out worldwide hunger. To date, Joshua’s Heart Foundation has distributed more than 400,000 pounds of food to those in need and they have coupled that assistance with teaching some recipients how to prepare healthier meals.
•Kenneth M. Quinn, Des Moines, Iowa — Kenneth M. Quinn assumed the presidency of the World Food Prize foundation in Des Moines, Iowa in Jan. 2000 following a 32-year career as an American diplomat which focused significantly on refugee and humanitarian relief efforts and culminated with his service as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia.
For the past 12 years, Quinn has endeavored to build the World Food Prize, so that it could be seen as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture” and inspire efforts to alleviate hunger around the globe. Quinn’s foundation also operates a unique youth education program for high school students in America, and hosts the annual Iowa Hunger Summit.
•Kathy Goldman, New York — Kathy Goldman is a community activist who has been working on food, hunger and poverty issues since 1965. In 1980, she founded the Community Food Resource Center, now part of the Food Bank for New York City, and served as its executive director until 2003. Her advocacy work has focused on passage of federal food programs.
Her organization has closely watched how federal nutrition assistance programs are administered and utilized in New York City. Goldman was one of the founders of the Food Bank for New York City in 1983. She currently serves as co-director of Community Food Advocates, Inc.
•Jovita Flores, Chicago, Ill. — Flores has brought school wellness into focus as a social justice issue to motivate parents and community leaders to take action supporting healthy eating and opportunities for physical activity at school. Flores currently serves as the manager of Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables at the Healthy Schools Campaign.
•Erik Schultz, Sun Valley, Idaho — Erik Schultz is the founder of Thriive, a nonprofit based in Sun Valley, Idaho, whose mission is to use a blend of capital and compassion to invigorate small businesses and inspire a culture of social responsibility in challenged communities globally. Schultz is allocating more of Thriive’s capital resources to help grow smallholder farming and livestock operations, greenhouses, nurseries, and food processing businesses.
These small enterprises then “pay forward” their capital loans by donating food, livestock, seedlings, and crops to impoverished community members — making the entire chain of beneficiaries more self-reliant.
•Claudia Llanten, New York — Dr. Claudia Llanten is project director and country representative for Peru for the Catholic Medical Mission Board, where she leads the Unidos Contra La Mortalidad Infantil/United Against Infant Mortality project. Llanten utilized her clinical and surveillance skills to conduct a detailed baseline survey on health and nutritional conditions for children under five in three regions of Peru. This baseline survey provided the basis for Llanten’s current work to end childhood malnutrition in Peru, which emphasizes education and the provision of resources to increase food security for families.
•June Henton, Auburn, Ala. — Dr. June Henton is professor and dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University in Alabama. The commitment of the college is to produce graduates who are not only professionally competent, but globally aware and socially engaged.
Henton became involved in the UN World Food Programme’s Student War on Hunger Campaign, which led to the partnership of 300 institutions of higher education under the banner of Universities Fighting World Hunger. She also led Auburn University in establishing its Hunger Solutions Institute to connect with ideas that work for ending hunger.
•Govind Kannan, Fort Valley, Ga. — Dr. Govind Kannan, dean of the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, has spent his entire career in applied research and outreach empowering small and underrepresented farmers with the knowledge and technical skills needed to sustain successful agricultural enterprises. Kannan played a lead role in establishing a research consortium of 1890 land-grant institutions focused on integrated plant-animal farming systems to promote economic stability and environmental stewardship on limited resource farms.
•Dana Harvey, Oakland, Calif. — Harvey has spent the last decade in nonprofit management and development in areas of environmental justice, food security, education and economic development. As the executive director of Mandela MarketPlace, she guides the development and growth of Mandela as a small business incubator that sets an alternative model for building community health and wealth in West Oakland. She directs her organization toward a community-led food system that combines increased access to healthy foods, with economic development to build community health and wealth.