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Food insecurity experts available for Hunger Action Month

September 12th, 2018

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – September is Hunger Action Month – a month where people all over America take action to fight hunger. The University of Missouri offers the following experts as reporters work on stories about hunger and food insecurity.

For interviews with these or other Mizzou experts, please contact Sheena Rice at (573) 882-8353 or

  • Hunger in Missouri: The Missouri Hunger Atlas is issued by MU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security. The latest issue, released in 2016, reports nearly 1 million Missourians faced food insecurity, the worry about not having food. Sandy Rikoon, dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences and co-author of the study, can speak to how communities can use the Hunger Atlas to advocate for higher wages and government transfer payments such as Social Security or housing assistance. Rikoon also can speak to other projects from the Center for Food Security, including the Garden Starter, Heathy Shelves and food pantry
  • Unemployment and food insecurity: In a recently published study, Debbie S. Dougherty, a professor in the Department of Communication, explored the complex ways in which food security and food insecurity are expressed and experienced by people who are unemployed.
  • Food insecurity and children: Irma Arteaga, associate professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs, studies how policies impact children. Through her research, she has found that a age gap exists for children when they “age out” of food assistance programs and are not yet eligible to attend kindergarten. This gap in services impacts reading scores and learning for children when they start school. It also contributes to increased food insecurity for the family.
  • Vulnerable populations: Debra Howenstine, associate professor of clinical family and community medicine, helped establish the MedZou Community Health Clinic, a faculty-sponsored medical clinic that provides free primary health care, education and prevention. She can address the health needs of vulnerable populations.
  • Technology in the fight against hunger: Housed in a new imaging core in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the combination positron emission tomography (PET) scanner and computed tomography (CT) scanner—the PET/CT system—will improve accuracy and speed in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disorders and Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as provide new capabilities for plant science research that will prove crucial in the fight against hunger.
  • Drought resistant corn: Developing drought-tolerant corn varieties that make efficient use of available water is vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. For the past several decades, University of Missouri researchers have been working to solve this world hunger problem and have made significant strides. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded MU a $4.2 million grant to fund a multi-year project to study how corn maintains root growth in drought conditions.