As the famine in Somalia worsens with each passing day and the obesity pandemic rises on the World Health Organization’s list of severe public health crises, it is clear that the world’s health system is plagued with problems. However, sustainable food system activist Ellen Gustafson is not daunted by this bleak prognosis – in fact, she is tirelessly working to change the way the world views food and nutrition.
Gustafson will join the President’s Forum Speaker Series and address the world health system crisis, the work she has done – and the work that has yet to be done. Her talk, “A New Understanding of Hunger, Obesity and the Food System,” will be offered at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
As the founder and executive director of the 30 Project, an organization which focuses on new ways to view – and change – the food system, she has witnessed an increase in those suffering from hunger, while simultaneously, obesity rates have skyrocketed. 30 Project seeks to remedy major problems with the world’s food systems over the next 30 years by bringing together key organizations and activists to build a healthier, more sustainable global food system.
In 2007, Gustafson co-founded FEED Projects, a company that seeks to help feed the world through monetary donations made from the sales of bags, T-shirts and accessories. For every item sold, a portion of the profit is given to the United Nations World Food Program. Since its inception, FEED Projects have provided more than 65 million school meals to children throughout the world.
Prior to her work with FEED, Gustafson was a spokesperson for the UN World Food Program. She also spent time in the ABC News Investigative Unit as a terrorism research reporter, and she worked at the Council on Foreign Relations as a research associate for Military Fellows.
Gustafson earned her B.A. in international politics from Columbia University and is currently working toward her M.A. in food studies at New York University.
Her work has been featured on CNN, CBS Evening News, Fortune magazine, which named her one of 2009’s most powerful women entrepreneurs, and Inc magazine, which included her in their 2010 list of America’s 30 “coolest” entrepreneurs under the age of 30. She has spoken at numerous conferences and events including the “Fortune Most Powerful Women’s Conference,” and numerous universities.
Established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, the President’s Forum Series is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty and staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members. Before serving as President of HWS, Gearan was the director of the Peace Corps. He also served in the White House as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration.