STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State University officials established a new partnership with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) leaders on Friday [May 16] to expand each establishment's commitment to addressing worldwide hunger and poverty.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum and WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin signed a memorandum of understanding to work together and find solutions to food insecurity and continuing hunger.
Cousin, who was recently named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People, said, "This is a living document, and what we do with it moving forward is up to us. It gives us room to try many things."
Keenum said, "In working together, we can use the passion that both the WFP and Mississippi State have to help solve the hunger issue. Mississippi State has been in the Top 10 nationally in agriculture-related research for 15 consecutive years, and we intend to continue that track record."
Through evidence-based operations research, expert consultation and practical collaboration, the institutional partnership will focus on nutrition, food safety and food product development.
Prior to the signing, Keenum and other MSU officials met with Cousin and other WFP officials in January when MSU committed to an MOU with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, of which the WFP is a part. That agreement served to expand collaborations focused on aquatic animal health, disease prevention and emergency diagnostics.
Since his appointment as MSU's chief executive in 2008, Keenum has repeatedly worked with the WFP and the FAO to outline MSU's capabilities in addressing food security. In 2010, Keenum traveled to the FAO's headquarters in Rome, where he met with WFP officials and committed to an FAO agreement centered on food safety and nutrition as they relate to agriculture, children's poverty and environmental sustainability.
"Our students can address food security needs through innovative research. This is an opportunity for Mississippi State's best and brightest to make a difference in not only addressing nutritional needs, but in developing better products as well," said Keenum, a former under secretary with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who holds degrees in agricultural economics from MSU.
As part of its mission to serve urgent needs and to fight continuing hunger, the WFP responds to civil conflict, natural disasters and other types of emergency situations. The organization serves more than 97 million people in 80 countries and is the world's largest humanitarian organization.
For more information about MSU, visit www.msstate.edu.