The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Ivy College of Business Start Something programs co-hosted the first Food Insecurity Challenge, which invited students of all disciplines to devise a solution to combat food insecurity in Iowa.
The Food Insecurity Challenge began on Tuesday, November 1, with an Oxfam Hunger Banquet Kick-Off held at the Ivy College of Business Gerdin Business Building Kingland Hub. As students arrived, they chose character cards that assigned them a persona they would adhere to for the remainder of the evening, including a backstory and income level. With over 100 students in attendance, 60% fell in the low-income category, 25% in the middle-income category, and 15% in the high-income category.
To emulate the experience of those living in poverty worldwide, students in the low-income category were served a dinner of rice and water and sat on the floor. Middle-income and high-income students sat at tables and were served a meal of rice and beans and a full pasta dinner, respectively. A few lucky low-income students experienced a stroke of luck that moved them into the middle- or high-income categories, and a number of the middle- or high-income students experienced circumstances that moved them to the low-income category. These demonstrations represented the struggles those living in poverty around the world face every day.
Following the demonstration, AG Kawamura of Western Growers gave remarks, laid out the startling facts ranging from local food poverty challenges to world hunger, and gave examples of problems to be solved during the challenge. Following the banquet, students formed teams and got to work!
Between November 8 and 9, students from each group participated in mentoring sessions to perfect their pitches before final presentations.
Tuesday, November 15, twenty-six student teams gathered in the Student Innovation Center to hear inspiring remarks from Michelle Book, President and CEO of Food Bank of Iowa, who also served as a final-round judge along with College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Dan Robison and Ivy College of Business Associate Dean for Research and Academic Personnel Scott Johnson.
Following first-round presentations, nine teams were awarded $500 runner-up prizes:
Following preliminary presentations, three teams were invited to pitch once more in a final round for prizes totaling $9,000, including “Lettuce Eat Together” — Ronnit Nandu, Jason Nelson, Jessica Nelson, and Shairvi Sardana, “Food Deserts” — Erin Jackson, Rebecca Johnson, Grace Reiss, and Jennifer Wear, and “High Tunnel Farming” — Sarah Mattingly, Amy Mendee, and Payten Watson.
$5,000 first place award winners: “Lettuce Eat Together” — Ronnit Nandu, Jason Nelson, Jessica Nelson, and Shairvi Sardana
$2,500 first place award winners: “High Tunnel Farming” — Sarah Mattingly, Amy Mendee, and Payten Watson
$1,500 first place award winners:“Food Deserts” — Erin Jackson, Rebecca Johnson, Grace Reiss, and Jennifer Wear