The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Special Report Food Security

What can we do as Buckeyes?

Demonstrating what can happen when we unleash our might

More than 500 alumni, faculty, staff, students and volunteer leaders convened for Ohio State’s inaugural Buckeye Summit on food security in April. They came from 17 states and as far away as London and Beijing. National experts spoke on topics from health to policy to the environment, covering the food-adjacent factors that compound the challenge. And participants provided real-time direction for the day’s conversation through digital interaction.

The goals: to educate and inspire participants and to help them identify opportunities for action within their own communities.

Pack Shack volunteers

Following the Buckeye Summit, 219 volunteers pack 76,320 meals for those in need. The effort resulted from a partnership between the alumni association’s Office of Volunteer Relations and a nonprofit, The Pack Shack.

The Alumni Club of Palm Beach County

The Alumni Club of Palm Beach County, Florida, teamed with CROS Ministries and local “gleaners” to pick 12,000 pounds of cucumbers that otherwise would have gone unharvested. The cucumbers were donated to the Palm Beach County Food Bank for distribution to local pantries.

Here are some sentiments expressed that day:

President Michael V. Drake:
“There are 530,000 Buckeyes around the world — an amazing number — and we can make a difference.”
Matt Habash, ’81 MA, who hopes to realize his dream of someday closing the Mid-Ohio Foodbank he started 32 years ago because it will no longer be needed:
“Food insecurity is not about food. It’s about the choices people need to make with very, very limited resources. … We win when we make SNAP a health program, not a hunger program.”
Molly Meily, ’78, teacher, Jones Middle School in Upper Arlington, on her desire to assist:
“No community is spared. If one out of four people in a community is hungry, then three out of four can help.”
Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, on everyday approaches to raising food-security awareness:
“If you have five seconds, like or share a social-media post about hunger. If you have 50 minutes, you can … join a town hall meeting expressing concern over hunger. If you have more time, volunteer to sort food or deliver meals at a local food agency or visit your local congressperson. ... Be the spark that puts a meal on the table for someone who is hungry.”
Catherine Woteki, chief scientist for Research, Education and Economics, USDA, on the public’s role in solving scientific and societal problems:
“In citizen science, the public participates voluntarily in the scientific process. And when that information is shared through crowdsourcing, we spur the scientific research through group discovery and co-creation of knowledge.”

Meanwhile, alumni clubs across a dozen states lived the Buckeye motto of “Education for Citizenship” by reaching out to neighbors during a Month of Service observance in April. Members contributed their time and energy to support Ohio State’s commitment to food security and to foster connections in their own communities.

The Alumni Club of Palm Beach County, for example, picked 12,000 pounds of cucumbers for distribution to Florida food pantries. Elsewhere, the New Mexico Alumni Club raised $1,000 and packed 10,000 pounds of food for an Albuquerque food bank, the Austin Alumni Club worked in a sustainable food center’s community garden and many others logged volunteer hours in their cities.

Buckeye Nation needn’t stop there.

To learn more about Ohio State’s food security efforts and specific ways you can get involved, visit

Help Ohio State grow healthier communities


Support the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation team’s collaborative mission to examine and address food security from cultural, political, economic and environmental fronts.


Buckeye Food Alliance pantry

Assist a student-led effort to help current Buckeyes in need.


Food Innovation Center

Help experts from across 15 colleges tackle food and nutrition issues through food mapping, public health policy, obesity prevention and other key initiatives.