Sandy Rikoon has a lot on his proverbial plate. His work is hard to pigeonhole, except to say that, in general, it’s grounded in concern over both people and the environment. Since his academic discipline in rural sociology lives “at the intersection of basic and applied research,” it is the pursuit of “seamless connections” between his research, teaching, and outreach activities that drives Rikoon’s work.
Rikoon fondly recalls when the Missouri Hunger Atlas project began. Eventually, he formed an interdisciplinary team, garnered the help of a host of undergraduate students, and did a systematic assessment of hunger in the state.
After two years of volunteering in a foreign community, the returned Peace Corps Fellows now turn their attention to a service project in the local community. Convening to discuss their vision and mission, the group gathered ideas about possible community service projects. “And one of the things we agreed upon was that we were interested in food—not a surprise for Peace Corps folks,” Craig Hutton said.
After many months of meeting with key organizations in Columbia, the Peace Corps Fellows identified food security as the issue to be addressed. Partnering with Sustainable Farms and Communities (SFC), a local nongovernmental organization, they plan to implement a research project in order to assess food security in Columbia. The group has been working with key community leaders –from non-governmental organizations and churches to businesses and city government—to design a survey to assess food security. When the survey is finished, it will be used by SFC to apply for a grant to build a pavilion on the site of the Columbia Farmer’s Market, which will function as a community center hosting health, cooking, and nutrition classes.