Thomas C. Sorensen Seminar: Huskers Fighting Hunger: Confronting Food Insecurity in Our Communities

Henzlik Hall - Room 124, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (City Campus)

Millions of Americans experience hunger and food insecurity on a daily basis. Hunger has long-term impacts on child and human development, physical and mental health, social productivity, and community well-being. Yet, despite its wide-ranging consequences, hunger remains an issue that is too often neglected. According to the USDA, more than 1 in 10 households in Nebraska experience food insecurity, meaning they struggle with providing enough food for all members on a regular basis.

The purpose of this forum is for students and community members to learn about hunger issues here in Lincoln and Nebraska, and how people can make a difference in the local fight against hunger. The forum will feature a panel of advocates and policymakers discussing local hunger issues, and break-out sessions that will focus on local anti-hunger initiatives and opportunities for getting involved. The forum coincides with the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. It is free and open to students, staff, faculty, and community members.

Co-sponsors: the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, the Food Bank of Lincoln, Hunger Free Heartland, the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Civic Engagement, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Arts and Sciences through the Thomas C. Sorensen Endowment, and the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Mariana Chilton is a nationally recognized leader addressing child hunger in America and an associate professor at Drexel University School of Public Health. She is the director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, formerly known as The Philadelphia GROW Project, and co-principal investigator of Children’s HealthWatch. Dr. Chilton founded Witnesses to Hunger to increase women’s participation in the national dialogue on hunger and poverty.

Dr. Chilton investigates the health impacts of hunger and food insecurity among young children aged zero to four. Her work spans across a variety of issues that affect low-income families to address nutritional wellbeing, public assistance participation, housing instability, employment, and financial insecurity. Dr. Chilton received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. She has testified before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of child nutrition programs and other anti-poverty policies.

She has served as an advisor to Sesame Street and to the Institute of Medicine. Her awards include the Nourish Award from Manna, the Unsung Hero Award for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls from Women’s Way, and the Young Professional Award in Maternal and Child Health from the American Public Health Association. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, the Philadelphia InquirerParents Magazine, ABC World News with Diane SawyerCBS National News, and public radio. Her work was comprehensively featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer Series, a Portrait of Hunger, and most recently on CNN American Morning.

Break-out sessions:

Hunger and Obesity: The Importance of Nutrition Education
Facilitator: Amy Yaroch, Ph.D
This session will feature a Hunger 101 overview; cover the link between hunger, nutrition and obesity; and nutrition education.
Action goal: Increase knowledge of the correlation between hunger and obesity, and identifying opportunities for volunteerism in nutrition education and cooking demonstrations.

Utilizing Advocacy to Impact Hunger and the Community
Facilitator: Kate Bolz
Featuring: Senator Bill Avery
This session will focus on policy interventions as the first line of defense against hunger, and how to become involved in legislation addressed at hunger and food insecurity.
Action goal: Learning about policy advocacy, and volunteer opportunities for SNAP outreach with communities.

Working with Schools to Ensure Children have Access to Food
Facilitators: Sue Arment & Scott Young
This session will focus on child hunger, the importance of nutrition programs in schools, and examples of school-based programs in Lincoln (e.g. school breakfast challenge and weekend backpack programs).
Action goal: Learn about school-based initiatives and volunteer and mentorship opportunities in schools.


Sue Arment, a native Nebraskan, serves as the director of Hunger Free Heartland (HFH). First convened by ConAgra Foods Foundation, HFH is a joint collaboration of individuals, communities, and organizations uniting behind the common goal of ending childhood hunger and ensuring that every child has daily access to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prior to joining HFH, Ms. Arment spent 17 years at Hewlett-Packard, holding various management positions in marketing as well as strategic and operational roles. She was also a co-founder of several companies focused on consumer insights and behavioral changes to improve health and wellness. Ms. Arment holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and an MBA from Colorado State University.

Senator Bill Avery is currently representing District 28 in the Nebraska Legislature. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. While serving in the Legislature, Senator Avery has been an influential advocate for children’s health issues, introducing bills such as LB 126 which proposed the adoption of responsible corporate marketing practices for fast food. Senator Avery has also received the coveted Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers award, along with multiple other outstanding teaching awards. Before being elected to the Nebraska Legislature, Senator Avery first served in the U.S. Air Force with the Strategic Air Command. He also serves as a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and as an international trade consultant. Senator Avery is also a member of the American Academy of Political Science, International Studies Association, and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

Kate Bolz, a native Nebraskan, serves as the associate director of the Low Income Economic Opportunity (LIEO) program at Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest. The LIEO program works to build a Nebraska where all people have a chance to achieve the American Dream. Prior to joining Nebraska Appleseed, Ms. Bolz served as associate director of the Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program where she trained young leaders to engage in anti-hunger initiatives. She has also worked as a community organizer with MOSES in Detroit, Michigan and as a policy advocate with Lutheran Services in America in Washington, D.C. Ms. Bolz holds an MSW from the University of Michigan and a BA and a BS from Nebraska Wesleyan University. She currently serves on the Nebraska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers Board and the Nebraska Wesleyan University President’s Board of Advisors.

Amy Yaroch, Ph.D., is the executive director at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. Dr. Yaroch has expertise and background in dietary intervention strategies and assessment at the individual, environmental, and policy levels, with an emphasis on children and adolescents. She has worked in the area of obesity prevention for more than 14 years and more recently has dedicated research efforts towards food insecurity. She is an affiliate member of the Eppley Cancer Center and holds appointments as professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to her position at the Center, Dr. Yaroch was a program director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Health Promotion Research Branch for more than six years where she led research efforts in the areas of nutrition, obesity prevention, and sun safety/skin cancer prevention.

Currently, Dr. Yaroch serves on a number of national advisory groups, including:

A firm believer in the personal wellness and community benefits of local food, Yaroch serves on the Board of Directors for the Nebraska Food Co-op and the Community Health Advisory Committee for Environment.

Scott Young is the Executive Director of the Food Bank of Lincoln, a position he has held since September 10th, 2001. The mission of the Food Bank of Lincoln is to alleviate hunger in southeast Nebraska. Prior to his Food Banking career, Scott spent 28 years in radio in Arizona, Wyoming, and Nebraska. He is a 2001 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University and is currently serving as the Vice-Chair of the National Affiliate Council of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. The Food Bank of Lincoln distributed over 8 million pounds of grocery products into 16 counties in southeast Nebraska in 2010.

In the news: 
Chilton to lead “Huskers Fighting Hunger” forum today. (2011-11-16). UNL Announce

Contact information:

Tarik Abdel-Monem
University of Nebraska Public Policy Center
(402) 472-3147

Sue Arment
Hunger Free Heartland
(402) 905-4804

Kate Bolz
Nebraska Appleseed
(402) 438-8853 x101

Lane Carr
(402) 760-2242

Linda Moody
Center for Civic Engagement
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
(402) 472-8158