The name of a new global food security hub at McGill might be a mouthful, but the students behind it are confident their work will help get food into the mouths of people who need it.
“We want to be a place where students can get hands-on experience advocating for solutions,” said Efrata Woldeyohanes, the undergraduate student leading the recently launched Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security Student Nexus.
Creating a space to learn
Open to students in any field of study, the aim of the Nexus is to raise awareness about the topic of food security, while also giving its members a place to come together and learn from one another. Given that food security is an inherently interdisciplinary topic, Woldeyohanes said she hopes to recruit students with a wide range of interests and perspectives.
“Food security is not just about growing enough crops to feed everyone,” she explained. “Food also needs to be safe, nutritious, affordable, and accessible. So, whether you’re studying medicine, business, agriculture, or political science, we want to hear your ideas.
“No matter what you’re passionate about, there’s a place for you at the Nexus.”
As its name suggests, the Nexus will work closely with the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at McGill to organize events, educational campaigns, and other activities that support the institute’s work. This close collaboration will also allow the institute to connect Nexus students with its local and global partners, including United Nations agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme, for internships and job opportunities.
“Student involvement with the institute has been a priority for me from day one,” said IGFS Managing Director Patrick Cortbaoui. “I know how rewarding it is to be involved in creating change, even in small ways, and I want students to have access to these types of experiences.”
Gaining first-hand experience
Woldeyohanes knows first-hand the motivation that comes from connecting with communities directly affected by food insecurity and being able to contribute to practical solutions.
“I grew up in Ethiopia, and even as a kid I remember seeing people struggling and wanting to help them, to feed them,” said Woldeyohanes, who is now a research assistant at the IGFS. “Back then, it was just a dream. But now I’m in a place where I can actually do something about it.”
The Nexus already has four members, but they hope to expand their network before the end of the semester. Students who join early will get to play an active role in shaping the identity of the Nexus and deciding what types of initiatives to work on. For Woldeyohanes, the priority is creating a fun, collaborative community where students feel comfortable brainstorming ideas and trying things out.
“Needless to say, trying to solve world hunger is a daunting task,” she said. “But hopefully, by being part of the Nexus, students will feel supported and empowered to take action in any way they can.”
Students interested in learning more about global food security and how they can get involved with the Nexus can follow and reach out to the group on Instagram at igfs_mcgill or by email at email@example.com.