BERKELEY — University of California President Janet Napolitano wants to leverage the state’s role in agriculture and research to tackle one of the world’s most pressing problems: food.
The former Homeland Security secretary is unveiling an initiative Tuesday that she says will deepen the university’s commitment to eradicating hunger and improving nutrition at home and abroad.
The idea for the UC Global Food Initiative came out of a dinner Napolitano and the system’s 10 campus chancellors had at Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, which is regarded as the birthplace of California cuisine and its emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. But the project’s ambitious goal “is to set the world on a pathway to a sustainable and nutritional food supply by 2025,” Napolitano told The Associated Press in an interview in advance of the announcement.
The venture, which will build on existing efforts and be overseen by a faculty-led council, will encompass projects as varied as bringing UC scientists together to look at how crops can be protected amid climate change and establishing campus-based food pantries to increasing opportunities for local farmers to furnish the food sold on campuses, she said.
The university also plans to create a student fellowship program to promote research on food issues and work with local K-12 schools to promote healthy eating, Napolitano said.
“We have an education mission and a research mission, and the kinds of things I’m suggesting and the best practices we will be sharing will all need to be based in science and evidence-based research, but they also serve our third mission, which is a public service mission,” she said.
Napolitano is scheduled to announce the systemwide project at a Berkeley middle school where she will be joined by Chez Panisse co-founder, chef Alice Waters.