Steuben County

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Discovering Local and Global Hunger in Arkansas at Heifer International Ranch

October 6, 2016

Hunger and Food Insecurity are issues ranging from local to global levels. As a house-hold epidemic, it is not a condition that is always apparent. Solutions are not always simple and finding resources and support within the community can be difficult.

A major part of the issue is awareness. Unless a family is affected by hunger or food insecurity, it is easy to turn a blind eye. Many 4-H members learn about agriculture and raising food. Purdue Extension wanted to bring these students to the Heifer Ranch so they could expand their awareness and utilize their knowledge to bring solutions to their individual communities.

Indiana 4‑H coordinated a trip to Heifer International Ranch in Arkansas for 44 teens from Indiana to highlight and inform Indiana 4-H member's not only of the global issue of hunger, but also to enlighten them of food insecurity in their own communities.

The members, educators and volunteers arrived in Arkansas on Friday evening. They were led through a series of ice breakers and leadership activities focused on breaking stereotypes, overcoming assumptions, and increasing awareness of diversity. Saturday brought a tour of the property and more leadership and team-building exercises led by the Heifer International staff.

Saturday evening the members were split into different global villages that simulate communities that Heifer supports. Examples include Guatemala, Thailand, Refugee Camps and Urban Slums. Each village was given limited resources. They were to work within their village to figure out a way to secure food and fuel for the evening. Many members were not able to procure enough food to fully sate their hunger.

On Sunday the Heifer staff coordinated a group debrief and delivered more information about hunger and food insecurity on a global scale. On the bus ride home, we also had the group break up into their individual counties and discuss food insecurity in their communities. They discussed possible interventions that they could take back to their communities and then shared this with the rest of the group.; You do not have access to modify this field.
Indiana 4‑H coordinated a trip to Heifer International Ranch in Arkansas for 44 teens from Indiana to highlight and inform Indiana 4-H member's not only of the global issue of hunger, but also to enlighten them of food insecurity in their own communities.

The members, educators and volunteers arrived in Arkansas on Friday evening. They were led through a series of ice breakers and leadership activities focused on breaking stereotypes, overcoming assumptions, and increasing awareness of diversity. Saturday brought a tour of the property and more leadership and team-building exercises led by the Heifer International staff.

Saturday evening the members were split into different global villages that simulate communities that Heifer supports. Examples include Guatemala, Thailand, Refugee Camps and Urban Slums. Each village was given limited resources. They were to work within their village to figure out a way to secure food and fuel for the evening. Many members were not able to procure enough food to fully sate their hunger.

On Sunday the Heifer staff coordinated a group debrief and delivered more information about hunger and food insecurity on a global scale. On the bus ride home, we also had the group break up into their individual counties and discuss food insecurity in their communities. They discussed possible interventions that they could take back to their communities and then shared this with the rest of the group.

At the start of the trip, seven percent of the attendees strongly agreed that they knew where their food came from on a regular basis. Thirty-five percent of attendees strongly agreed that they knew the difference between standard of living and quality of life. Sixteen percent strongly agreed that they knew the difference between malnutrition and starvation.

According to the post-survey results, there was a 44% increase in understanding the difference between quality of life and standard of living. Surveys showed a 63% increase in understanding the difference between malnutrition and starvation.

Over the course of the weekend, 4-H member's were made aware that, with limited resources, it becomes difficult to get/find food. When asked about their greatest challenge faced in the Global Village, sixty percent of respondents wrote about the need to find food for their village.

On the trip home discussion revolved around their experiences with hunger. More importantly we talked about their communities and how sometimes hunger and a persons quality of life may not be obvious. Discussion was held about impacts that they might have in their communities.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents to the Common Measures survey stated that they thought they could make a difference in their community through community service. One hundred percent felt that they could apply knowledge in ways to solve 'real-life' problems through community service.

Ideas that were discussed included holding food drives, assisting with community gardens, and starting or assisting with backpack programs.

In addition to learning about hunger and starvation, all members also learned a tremendous amount about world cultures and acceptance. According to the Common Measures results, 100% of respondents stated that they have learned about people who are different from them and respect people from different cultures. Ninety-eight percent value learning about other cultures.

The Purdue World Food Prize Youth Institute was also discussed on the bus ride home. Eighteen members expressed interest in writing an essay for next year's contest.

In the four months since the trip, small impacts are starting to emerge. One county is in discussion with their Master Gardener Group who recently started a community garden to benefit local food pantries. The group that went to Heifer is working with their Junior Leader group to find ways to become more involved with this garden.

Another county reported that the parents of the participants shared with their educator that both of their 4-H member's have been wasting less food at home and at school and that they are frustrated with the amount of food thrown away at school.

Heifer International's mission is to provide resources and training for struggling small-scale farmers in order to give them a chance to change their circumstances. We believe by taking these 44 Indiana 4-H member's to Arkansas for a weekend, we provided them a tool which they can use to change their own circumstances as well as their communities.

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