Livia Karoui, a junior political science major and history minor, who is also pursuing our innovative Certificate in Civic and Global Leadership at The University of the South, is an emerging scholar-leader with an academically grounded, passionate commitment to tackling the complex issue of food insecurity both domestically and internationally. Drawing on her experience of the immersive food culture of Italy, where she grew up, she worked with a USAID food security program in Ghana during her sophomore year, learning how increasing access to adequate nutrition can foster the economic and social wellbeing of individuals and their communities. Livia has continued to pursue the political, economic and cultural dimensions of food and food security through academic coursework, a co-curricular internship in community philanthropy, and by supporting the work of the largest food bank in our rural southern Appalachian community.
Growing up in Italy, I learned that eating is not just a physical need: it is a social activity; eating ties people together into a community and it is shaped by political, economic and cultural factors. During my semester abroad in Ghana, I was able to intern for a USAID food security program which showed me how increasing access to adequate nutrition can foster the economic and social wellbeing of individuals and their communities. Through my classes at Sewanee, I was not only able to learn more about the science behind nutrition but also to design a community engagement project that illustrates the importance of food security through a local lens. Based on my experiences and studies, in 2018, I decided to share what I learned in my experience abroad by organizing an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to help students, faculty, and staff to understand the food inequality that exists in the world today. My twin goals for this coming year are to encourage more students, staff, and faculty at Sewanee to learn about the causes of food insecurity as a step toward strengthening University partnerships with local food banks through volunteering, grant-writing, and fundraising.