Drawing on the three components of food security, along with a fourth component, stability, woven throughout, APLU’s Challenge of Change Commission defined the seven challenges that public research universities are uniquely qualified to collectively meet.
The first dimension of food and nutrition security, Availability, requires sufficient quantities of food to be accessible on a consistent basis from either domestic production or importation. Many factors can affect availability, including agricultural productivity, soil fertility, population flows, harvesting time, distribution systems, storage, and food wastage. While numerous factors dictate availability, the Commission identified three areas as critical for public universities and their partners to address: Sustainable Production Systems; Plant and Animal Performance; and Distribution, Loss, and Waste in Food Systems. Working groups focused on these areas developed three challenges to be addressed under the availability component:
The second dimension of food and nutrition security, Access, means having sufficient resources and ability to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious and culturally appropriate diet. The FAO estimates that although world food production is currently sufficient to meet the caloric requirements of today’s world population, one in nine people are still chronically malnourished. Like the availability component, challenges around access to food and nutrition security have many contributing factors, including gender, socioeconomic status, and location. To address these and other factors, the Commission identified two areas as critical for public universities and their partners to address: the creation of an enabling environment for access and inclusion and equity. Working groups focused on these two areas developed two challenges to be addressed under the access component:
The third dimension of food and nutrition security, Utilization, refers to the appropriate use of food, which is based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation to prevent foodborne disease. The FAO identifies food utilization as: “Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, diversity of the diet, and intra-household distribution of food.”102 To address these and other factors, the Commission identified two areas as critical for public universities and their partners to address: nutrition, human development, and health; and food safety, sanitation, and public health. Working groups focused on these areas developed two challenges to be addressed under the utilization component: