Thursday, March 01, 2018

UIS students, who are leaders in fighting hunger, to share their knowledge at a national summit

Five University of Illinois Springfield students, who are campus leaders in the fight against hunger, will be featured during the 2018 Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit (UFWH) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign March 15-17, 2018.

Daniel Rodriguez, Rachel Mau and Katie Simpson will be featured during a Leaders Forum panel at the Presidents United to Solve Hunger Conference (PUSH.) The panel is titled, “Students Fighting Hunger through Collaborative Partnerships.”

Daniel Rodriguez, a pre-nursing major from Joliet, serves as the UIS Community Garden coordinator. He oversees the planting, care and maintenance of the garden, coordinates volunteers and helps educate the public about the importance of gardens.

The UIS Community Garden’s mission is to provide fresh, organic, chemical free produce to anyone in need, and eventually the Student Union. “I love what I do,” said Rodriguez. “It is a proactive activity that teaches, not only me, but everyone else about plants and how to maintain them in hopes they will create a garden of their own.”

Rachel Mau, from Algonquin, is majoring in pre-nursing and serves as the student director of the UIS Cares food pantry, to ensure UIS students always have enough food to eat. The UIS Cares food pantry is directly partnered with the Central Illinois Foodbank and receives donations from faculty and staff bins placed in campus buildings. Mau helps coordinate those donations, creates the marketing and advertising campaigns, and works in the pantry during operating hours.

“UIS Cares has had such a positive impact on this campus because it helps the community realize how many students may need some extra support to ensure the best outcome in their college careers and it builds a stronger community by helping one another,” said Mau.

Katie Simpson, a psychology major from Joliet, serves as the Leadership for Life Sustainability Committee Chair and is directing a project that partners the Cox Children’s Center and UIS Green Fee Committee to establish a teaching garden on campus.

“I think making our campus a more sustainable place is incredibly important,” said Simpson. “I think that the best time to start education on living more sustainably is at a young age. When a person is being raised being conscientious of environmental issues, they are more likely to keep them in mind as they get older.”

Jacqualine Simone Jarju, a graduate student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will present her research, “The Culture of Food,” as part of the PUSH conference, and Assistant Professor of Public Health, Brian Chen will speak on using comprehensive systematic reviews to alleviate food insecurity and chronic disease.

The UFWH Summit will also include a poster presentation on Food Waste Management: Food insecurity as a socioeconomic paradigm, by UIS Public Health graduate student Christopher Vemagiri Marbaniang from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

According to a Hunger on Campus report, 22% of U.S. college students report having the lowest levels of food insecurity. For more information on the 14th annual UFWH Summit or PUSH Leaders Forum, visit

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