URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger-Free America established at University

PROVIDENCE, R.I.– September 8, 1999 — The University of Rhode Island today launched a center that has the elimination of hunger in Rhode Island as its first priority. Funded by a gift from the Feinstein Foundation and utilizing resources throughout the University of Rhode Island, the initiative also calls for the establishment of a hunger studies minor studies at URI and the creation of lifelong advocates by exposing students to the issues of hunger and offering them expanded opportunities for personal involvement. The Feinstein Foundation is initially contributing $500,000 to the center over the next two years. At the end of two years, the Foundation plans to endow the Center up to $3-million providing expectations by both parties are met. With programs and action-based activities at both URI’s Kingston and Providence campuses, the URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger-Free America will mobilize the University’s vast human, academic, and programmatic energy to move hunger to the forefront of America’s consciousness. “We believe that fighting hunger is a way of wrestling with a whole range of social and economic ills from which hunger often flows,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “Alan Shawn Feinstein’s national leadership on this issue creates special opportunities for URI and gives us another way to contribute to the health and welfare of Rhode Island and America.” “I look forward with hope and optimism that we can, indeed, make a lasting impact on the hunger problem in America,” said Alan Shawn Feinstein. The first official task of the Center will be to conduct a national search for a recognized leader in the war on hunger. A six-member academic steering committee, charged with assisting in the day-to-day operations of the Center, will conduct the search. Kathy Cevoli, who most recently served the University as director of corporate and foundation relations, will act as interim coordinator of the center until a successful candidate is found. The initiative is being launched with strong faculty support. In addition to the steering committee, a 12-member committee of University advisors will meet monthly throughout the academic year to provide policy and direction for the Center as well as identify criteria for evaluation and benchmarks of success. The Center will mobilize many of the University’s existing resources and will be strongly supported by the Feinstein Enriching America Program at URI, URI’s Family Resource Partnership, and the University’s emerging Urban Initiative to accomplish the following: HUNGER-FREE STATE: To create a hunger-free Rhode Island, the Center plans to engage Rhode Island leaders from business, government, the non-profit sector, and education to develop and implement a plan of action. *A HUNGER MINOR. An academic minor in hunger studies will be established that incorporates new and existing curricula from a variety of disciplines and colleges. Service learning and internships will be a strong component. LIFELONG ADVOCATES. All URI freshmen, currently oriented to community service through the URI 101/Feinstein Enriching America Program, will be formally introduced to issues relating to hunger and personal opportunities for involvement. LEADERSHIP STUDIES: Hunger cessation will become a highly visible track in URI’S existing Leadership Studies minor. Throughout the program’s four years of study, internships and services opportunities, hunger advocacy will be an ongoing action focus. HUNGER POLICY INSTITUTE FOR ACTION RESEARCH FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE: Action research will be applied to help advocate for systemic change in addressing hunger in Rhode Island and nationally. Existing hunger data will be used to define a Rhode Island baseline and to guide a robust agenda to the Center’s hunger eradication activities. HUNGER INFORMATION DISSEMINATION: URI’s Departments of Journalism and Communication Studies will help keep the topic of hunger in the forefront of local and national media by developing a public/media relations program. In addition, the Center will press forward with Feinstein Foundation hunger programs-focusing immediately on the completion of the million signature petition calling for Congress and the president to end hunger in America. To that end, URI’s new Center unveiled today a hunger petition web page, giving people across America the opportunity to sign the petition electronically. The site address is: www.uri.edu/volunteer/endhunger/ The URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger-Free America indicates a shift of resources from Brown University. “Hunger is a public policy issue. I chose to fund the center at URI because it is the state’s public university and because of the interest in the issue of hunger at the University of Rhode Island. The University has a rich track record of community involvement and can provide hands-on advocacy by mobilizing a generation of students,”said Feinstein. A snapshot of hunger in Rhode Island According to the 1997 USDA Food Security Measurement Study, an estimated 35,400 Rhode Islanders went hungry. That means 1 out of every 30 Rhode Island households experienced hunger. And the number of Rhode Island households that were food insecure reached an estimated 134,000; that’s 1 in every 8 Rhode Island households. Hunger and Race in Rhode Island: 63 percent were white. Gender and the hungry: 64.50 percent were women. Employment: 41 percent were unemployed, 23 percent were working, 36 percent were either retired or disabled. Ages of the hungry: 47 percent were between the ages of 18 and 65 and 43 percent were under age 18. URI Steering Committee Members The six steering committee members who are charged with assisting in the day-to-day operations of the Center and conducting a national for the Center’s director are: Jayne Richmond, interim dean of URI’s University College; Dr. Nancy Fey Yensan, assistant professor of food science and nutrition; Dr. Jerome Schaffran, human development, counseling and family who will represent URI’s Family Resource Partnership; Dr. Maureen Moakley, political scientist who represents URI’s Public Policy Forum; Dr. Emanuel Blount, director of student services at URI’s Feinstein-College of Continuing Education who will represent the University’s emerging Urban Initiative; and Ed Ferszt, associate dean at Feinstein-CCE who will represent the hunger center. URI Committee of University Advisors A Committee of University Advisors will meet monthly throughout the academic year to guide the policy direction of the Center. Included in that committee are the steering committee members and the following: Alan Shawn Feinstein, founder of the Feinstein Foundation; Walter A. Crocker, dean of the URI Feinstein College of Continuing Education; Kathy Cevoli, interim coordinator for the Feinstein Center for a Hunger-Free America; Lawrence Perri, URI student intern; William Lynn McKinley, professor of education; Linda Sebelia, education specialist for food science and nutrition; Diane Horm-Wingerd, chair of Human Development and Family Studies; Marshall Feldman, associate professor of Community Planning; Matthew Bodah, assistant professor of the Labor Research Center; Vincent Petronio, assistant professor of Communications Studies; Linda Acciardo, director of the Department of Communications/News Bureau; Marcia Marker Feld, associate professor of Community Planning; Carole Horridge, director of the Feinstein Center for Service Learning, URI Feinstein College of Continuing Education; Dean Libutti, director of the Feinstein Center for Service Learning, Kingston campus. -xxx- For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116