Alan Tichenal and Joannie Dobbs

Health Options


Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Summit to look at hunger,
food insecurity in Hawaii

People often say that there are no guarantees in life. Though that may be the case, most people believe in certain basic human rights. Is it a basic human right to have access to adequate amounts of food? Or should it just be a matter of survival of the fittest?

In November of 1996, representatives from 185 countries and the European Community met in Rome for the United Nations Hunger Summit. Their goal was to set in place an international plan to work toward solving world hunger.

At that conference, the following statement was made: "We consider it intolerable that more than 800 million people throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs."

Those attending agreed to the ambitious goal of reducing the number of hungry people in the world by half by 2015.

Next week, a half-day conference called "Hunger Summit 2001" will be held in Honolulu to take a hard look at hunger and food insecurity in Hawaii. The conference is designed to increase awareness of the extent of the problem and to stimulate collaboration among organizations and individuals.

Conference organizers Dr. Joda Derrickson, executive director of Full Plate Inc., and Shireen Zaman, a visiting Congressional Hunger Fellow from Washington D.C., see this conference as a first step toward developing a more comprehensive and effective community approach to eliminating hunger in Hawaii.

The local situation is more serious than most of us might imagine.

In 1999, Derrickson collaborated with the state Office of Health Status Monitoring and the state Office of Planning to assess the extent of food insecurity in Hawaii, using a state Department of Health survey. The results were shocking, indicating that one in five Hawaii residents lived in households experiencing food insecurity.

Food insecurity is defined as whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate, safe and socially acceptable foods is limited or uncertain. The international trend is to use food insecurity rather than hunger to identify food problems. Eliminating it decreases the risk of serious social and health problems. Prevention is like treating the cause of many crime and health problems, rather than waiting to treat the more expensive symptoms.

In response to the dire statistics identified in 1999, Derrickson and partners founded the non-profit Full Plate, to conduct research on food insecurity, enhance collaboration among those working on solutions and inform the broader community.

Hunger Summit 2001 takes place from 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Nov. 14 at Central Union Church. To register call the Full Plate office at 941-6666 or e-mail

Speakers will include Dr. Kay Baker of the state Department of Health's Office of Health Status Monitoring, Brett Schlemmer of Hawaii Foodbank and Linda Stone of the Western Region Anti-Hunger Alliance.

Health Events

Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a food and nutrition consultant
and owner of Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.
She is also responsible for the nutritional analyses
indicated by an asterisk in this section.

Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a sports nutritionist in the
Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Science,
University of Hawaii-Manoa.

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