My July newsletter

July 24, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are enjoying the summer season and taking some time to recharge your batteries, or perhaps work on a piece of research or even reread a favorite book.

This month, I’d like to focus on a new initiative that I’m very excited about and that I see as one of the most important underway at the University: the UC Global Food Initiative. This is a bold project that I launched in events across the state on July 1, with the help and enthusiastic support of UC’s chancellors. The Initiative’s ambitious goal is to put the world on a path to feed itself in sustainable and nutritious ways.

The chancellors and I launched this initiative because the world food system is in crisis. A billion people suffer from some form of hunger each day while more than half a billion are obese. These damaging imbalances in the global food system are likely to get worse in the years ahead: The world’s population is expected to increase by a billion in the next decade, conflict and other societal problems are putting food supplies at risk and climate change is hurting production capabilities.

As the world’s leading public university, armed with a wide array of resources we can bring to bear, we have a large part to play in addressing this crisis. The Global Food Initiative, which unites our ten campuses, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in a search for solutions, is an audacious undertaking with a far-reaching and challenging goal. But I’m confident we have the strength in research, the expertise in policy and the experience in teaching and implementing operational improvements to succeed.

The initiative will be organized into five subject areas. Curriculum will cover educational efforts, operations will involve areas like procurement and distribution practices at university locations, including our dining halls and medical centers, and research will encompass both basic and applied fields. The two other areas are policy and service, which will include engagement with state, national, and international governments around policy solutions, as well as outreach to our local communities.

We’ll start by expanding across our ten campuses the best practices currently in place at many University locations that encourage sustainable farming practices, enable small growers to become suppliers and provide healthy fare in our dining halls. We’ll enrich food-related curricula across disciplines and develop research-based best practices, and then we’ll export them to the rest of the state, the nation and the world. We’ll involve our students, faculty and staff in our quest for innovative and lasting solutions.

As part of the initiative, I launched the President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program to help drive student engagement in the project. My office will provide $7,500 to each campus for three fellowships of $2,500 each. They can go to undergraduate or graduate students and can fund research or internships. It’s up to each campus to decide.

UC is already a leader in so many areas that affect the food system. This leadership goes beyond those fields that are traditionally associated with food to include disciplines such as the law, environmental studies, health, education and humanities. By integrating all these areas, we can build a dynamic, effective endeavor that harnesses our resources and drives change.  

If you’d like to find out more about this initiative, visit our website and look for announcements and further measures that support it.

Once again, I hope you’re enjoying your summer and thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter. If you’d like to share an idea or comment, please feel free to email at janet@ucop.eduAnd please pass this note on to friends and colleagues you think might be interested. If they like it, encourage them to sign up for future emails.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano