Capital University has a long history of empowering students who have a strong social conscience. Leveraging its faculty, classrooms, even its city, Capital creates a social-good idea incubator.
It’s no surprise, then, that Adam Schneider, a junior from Lancaster, Ohio, arranged for Capital to be among the first universities in the United States to partner this year with Table for Two, a growing global non-profit organization based in Japan that seeks to solve two paradoxical epidemics simultaneously — hunger and obesity.
“At Capital University, students like Adam are encouraged test and grow their ideas to improve the world in a rigorous, supportive learning environment,” said President Denvy A. Bowman, Ph.D. “Their work is supported throughout the university. The outcome is a growing alumni base of motivated, purposeful leaders — engaged citizens who make meaningful contributions to their communities, their employers, and to society.”
Here are few facts to chew on. According to the World Health Organization:
- Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
- In 2008, 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.
- 65 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
- Nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.
- Obesity is preventable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States:
- About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese.
- Approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 to19 are obese.
- During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.
- Ohio was one of 36 states with an obesity rate of 25 percent or higher.
Simultaneously, 1 billion people worldwide are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and an equal number facing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues related to over-nutrition. Table for Two seeks to restore balance leveraging a couple of tried-and-true tools — people’s instinct to help each other, and a simple, good, healthy meal.
Here’s how it works: You buy a healthy meal or dish that meets the nutrition guidelines established by Table for Two. A 25-cent surcharge is added to the price of the dish, and Table for Two uses the surcharge to fight hunger in developing nations where malnourishment is the norm — such as Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Africa. The concept is simple — pay a little more; eat a little better; do some good.
Capital became the second university in United States to pilot the program in mid-fall semester 2011, when its food services provider, Parkhurst Dining Services, worked with the Table for Two team to identify menu items that meet the organization’s nutrition guidelines.
They settled on a handful of freshly made salads — the chef’s salad, spinach salad, southwest chicken salad and grilled chicken Caesar salad, all of which are sold at a premium price of $5.85, with 25 cents from each sale going directly to those served by Table for Two. So far, more than 400 salads have been sold, and the program will continue next year.
Schneider, a Battelle Scholar and political science and public administration major, first learned of Table for Two in 2010, while he was attending the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in Miami, Fla. Launched by President Bill Clinton in 2007, CGI U builds on the Clinton Global Initiative model of engaging socially responsible world leaders to take action on the world’s more pressing challenges by leveraging the next generation of leaders on college and university campuses worldwide.
In 2009, the meeting brought together students, university presidents, nongovernmental organizations, and national youth organizations to create and implement Commitments to Action that could effect global change across five focus areas:
- Energy and Climate Change
- Global Health
- Peace and Human Rights
- Poverty Alleviation
Schneider’s commitment to action was to implement a plan to fight childhood obesity, and Table for Two is just one of the ways he’s fulfilling that commitment. Schneider recently was one of only 162 students nationwide selected as a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow. The Newman Civic Fellows Awards recognize inspiring college student leaders who have worked to find solutions for challenges facing their communities.
For more information about Table for Two, visit www.tablefor2.org/tft_usa.