Auburn Women's Basketball Coach Nell Fortner Speaks at Universities Fighting World Hunger National Launch
Oct. 16, 2006
Washington, D.C. - Auburn head women's basketball coach Nell Fortner was one of five speakers at the press conference announcing Universities Fighting World Hunger on Monday afternoon on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The Universities Fighting World Hunger initiative involves more than 50 American colleges and universities teaming up with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to raise awareness and money to fight severe hunger, which claims 25,000 lives a day around the world. This ground-breaking initiative, led by Auburn University, was launched at the meeting today.
"It was an honor to be invited to speak today as I was surrounded by very distinguished people involved in the fight to end world hunger," third-year coach Fortner said. "I am honored to serve as the official spokesperson for the AU/WFP `War on Hunger' campaign. To be able to use a platform like athletics to educate people about this global epidemic is a tremendous opportunity."
For the past two years, Fortner has served as the Auburn University spokesperson for the War on Hunger campaign and since then has been instrumental in increasing awareness of the cause and helping to raise money for the program. In 2005, Auburn hosted "This One's For the Girls" which raised money to benefit the World Food Programme and Auburn's War on Hunger drive. At the AU vs. LSU game on Feb. 20, 2005, raised over $3,000 and over a ton of food in its first effort.
"The initiative that was launched today is incredible," Fortner commented. "In an athletic setting at Auburn I can arm people with information, whether I am speaking to groups or whether I am putting information out at our games. If one person gets it and that person becomes passionate about finding a solution - this is what gets me excited because you just never know who is out there that can help. You keep pushing and trying."
The initiative seeks to mobilize thousands of college students across the United States in a campaign to end chronic hunger, which affects more than 80 million people worldwide - close to half to them children. It calls on universities to educate more foreign students in agriculture and nutrition, educate U.S. students about the persistence of global hunger, and build political will for increased federal funding for international hunger relief programs.
In addition to Fortner, the press conference featured Spencer Bachus, Alabama Congressman, WFP Executive Director James P. Morris, Peter McPherson, President of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and Lauren Bush, WFP Honorary Student Ambassador.
"The World Food Program is the world's largest humanitarian agency. Last year we reached almost 97 million people, but more are needed," said Morris. "What is missing is a movement of the willing to end hunger, especially for the world's children. I hope that Universities Fighting World Hunger initiative will start a groundswell of support to beat hunger once and for all. If college students put their minds to something, they can change the world."
During the day long program, a documentary by Auburn's own John DiJulio and Bruce Kuerten - gTo a Wiling Mind: Universities Fighting World Hunger - was shown to those in attendance at Copley Hall Formal Lounge as well as those taking part in the 2006 FAO World Food Day teleconference.
Harriet Giles, director of external relations for the College of Human Sciences at Auburn, and June Henton, professor and dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn, were also involved in the launch on Monday. Giles has been involved in all phases of Auburn's War on Hunger campaign since its inception inn 2004. Henton spearheaded Auburn's War on Hunger campaign and inspired the creation of Universities Fighting World Hunger.
Also in attendance was Whitney Skinner, a doctoral student in Integrated Textiles and Apparel Sciences and chair of Auburn's Committee of 19. She has been involved with the AU War on Hunger since its founding in 2004.
Auburn University will host the second annual War on Hunger Summit on February 23-25, 2007. Registration information for this event will be available at www.auburn.edu/hunger.
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