Registration is underway for the 3rd Annual Hunger and Homelessness Summit, a conference focused on food and housing insecurity on college campuses during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This summit has brought together UT community members from across the Knoxville campus and this year, the summit is incorporating members from across other UT campuses.
This year, colleagues from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will also be in attendance, making this a system-wide effort to inform faculty, staff, and students from across the UT System about the impact food and housing insecurity. Abigail Brumfield, Interim Assistant Director, Outreach & Initiatives in the Office of the Dean of Students and Hunger and Homelessness Summit Committee Chair, said this year will focus on the determinants of health.
“My colleague, Alison Brown, has had a focus on food insecurity and the determinants of health in Memphis at the UTHSC,” said Brumfield. “The UTHSC has such a strong presence in Knoxville, and I saw this as an opportunity to partner with her on this summit.” UTHSC will also be opening a food pantry in January, similar to the Big Orange Pantry which opened on Knoxville’s campus in November.
The range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health status are known as determinants of health. “As we educate the next generation of health care professionals, it is critical to make sure they are aware of the issues that contribute to their health of their patients,” said Brown. The five key areas are economic stability, built environments, health and health care, education, and social and community context.
“UTHSC is excited to join the Hunger and Homelessness Summit effort this year and offer this resource to our students,” said Brown. “UTHSC’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of Tennesseans, and food and housing have such a large impact on an individual’s health.”
Sessions will include presentations and panel discussions on supporting students through crisis situations, how food and housing insecurity affects the LGBTQ+ community, and how COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges for those already living on the margins.
Approximately 32% of UT students identify as being food-insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to food for a variety of reasons. ‘This context is important, as food-secure students typically perform better academically when compared to food-insecure counterparts. Therefore, this growing problem has also become a student success issue,” said Brumfield. “As we approach our third year, I am thankful for this space to discuss best practices and current research, connect with colleagues, and hold space for these important topics.”
The summit will take place on November 19 from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. via Zoom and is free for all UT faculty, staff, and students. Please register by Tuesday, November 17.