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White House names 11 food security ‘champions of change’

The White House has named 11 food security activists its “champions of change” and welcomed them to Washington last week.

“Today’s champions are examples of the groundbreaking work being done to tackle hunger at home and abroad. These individuals are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need,” Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, who presided over the Thursday event, said in a news release.

“Establishing global food security isn’t just critical for those now suffering from hunger,” Merrigan said. “It is also vital to our long-term economic prosperity. We applaud the champions for their efforts to empower families and communities and to reduce the depth and severity of hunger around the world.”

The “Champions of Change” program was created as a part of President Barack Obama’s “Winning the Future” initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of activists ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized, the White House said.

The following people were named as champions:
  • Rev. Sally Allocca, Birmingham, Ala., founder and executive director of Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources. (P.E.E.R., Inc.), which runs the East Lake Farmers Market, the East Lake Community Kitchen, and the East Lake Mobile Market.
  • Terrol Johnson, Sells, Ariz., co-founder and president of Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA) in southern Arizona., which has built a tribal food system that provides healthy, culturally-appropriate foods in one of the poorest communities in the United States.
  • Joshua Williams, Miami Beach, Fla., a middle-school student at Ransom Everglades School in Miami, and founder of Joshua’s Heart Foundation, which is working to fight hunger one community at a time by distributing food and teaching how to prepare healthier meals.
  • Kenneth Quinn, Des Moines, Iowa, a former ambassador and president of the World Food Prize foundation, which awards what has been called the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture” and sponsors the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and the Iowa Hunger Summit.
  • Kathy Goldman, New York, founder of the Community Food Resource Center, now part of the Food Bank for New York City, which watches how federal nutrition assistance programs are administered and utilized in New York City, and how the programs impact the 2 million low-income city residents.
  • Jovita Flores, Chicago, manager of Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables at the Healthy Schools Campaign, which works with parents to create healthy lifestyles, support wellness programs in schools, and advocate health-promoting policies at the district level.
  • Erik Schultz, Sun Valley, Idaho, founder of Thriive, a nonprofit which blends capital and compassion to invigorate small businesses and inspire social responsibility in challenged communities around the world.
  • Claudia Llanten, New York, 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, which uses a children’s health and nutrition survey to fight childhood malnutrition in Peru. The project emphasizes education and the provision of resources, including gardens, guinea pigs, and chickens, to increase food security for families.
  • June Henton, Auburn, Ala., a professor and dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University, which educates leaders in nutrition, food, consumer behavior and health, and leads Universities Fighting World Hunger with the U.N. World Food Program.
  • Govind Kannan, Fort Valley, Ga., dean of the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology at Fort Valley State University, which helps small and underrepresented farmers with knowledge and technical skills they need, and sends scientists to other countries to conduct training programs. It also welcomes scientists, students, producers, and government officials from overseas to its Small Ruminant Research Center to learn about sustainable goat and sheep production.
  • Dana Harvey, Oakland, Calif., executive director of Mandela MarketPlace, a small business incubator that sets an alternative model for building community health and wealth in West Oakland and led the campaign to open the Mandela Foods Cooperative to address Oakland’s longtime status as a food desert.

White House ‘Champions of Change’