COLUMBIA — MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has agreed to a yearlong collaboration with the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri to research best practices for healthy food donation and to encourage public donations to the organization.
The project — "Collaborating for a Healthy Future" was announced at noon Friday as part of the college's Homecoming celebration.
The project is a response to MU researchers' previous findings that food pantry clients' risk of obesity is double that of the general population. More than thirty percent of Missouri's population is obese, making it the 10th highest in the nation, according to a 2010 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We collaborate, and we've been doing it for decades — but we want to do more," Tom Payne, vice chancellor and dean of the college, said. "We're a food college, so why aren't we reaching out more to our community?"
The college plans to use its faculty's expertise, as well as partnerships in areas including agriculture, economics and nutrition, to improve food quality and security.
As part of the partnership, the college has agreed to do the following:
- Coordinate healthy food drives on campus;
- Plant two acres of sweet corn at MU's Bradford Farm to provide 14,000 to 28,000 ears of corn for the Food Bank;
- Donate 500 pounds of lean beef and 500 pounds of pork from the Mizzou Meat Market;
- Encourage students, faculty, staff and alumni to volunteer at the Food Bank;
- Research best practices for obtaining and distributing healthy food, including the Food Pantry Nutrition Project led by Sandy Rikoon;
- Raise awareness for the Food Bank’s Buddy Pack Program, which provides food for children from low-income families;
- Sponsor "Float Your Boat for The Food Bank," a cardboard boat regatta fundraiser to be held in April at Stephens Lake; and
- Encourage the college's 20 research centers to partner with their local food banks.
The Food Bank, which began in 1981, now feeds about 100,000 people every month.