Former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern is greeted by Ruth Trotter, professor of art, and Phil Hofer, director of the International and Study Abroad Center, on Wednesday in Founders Auditorium. McGovern visited the University of La Verne this week to participate in a panel discussion, deliver a lecture and visit selected classes to answer questions regarding global hunger.
The University of La Verne welcomed Sen. George McGovern to speak on campus in a variety of lectures. The focal point of his visit was his lecture on Thursday titled “Ending Hunger in Our Time.”
Pulling from his experience as a prominent politician, diplomat and scholar, McGovern spoke in the La Fetra auditorium about world hunger and the involvement of the United States.
“For most people in the world, the weapons of mass destruction are hunger, lack of water, malnutrition and disease,” McGovern said.
McGovern speaks of the 815 million people worldwide – roughly one in seven people – who suffer from hunger and malnourishment today. Of those, 31 million live in America, accounting for about 10 percent of the U.S. population.
In addition to running for president in 1972, as the Democratic candidate against Richard Nixon, McGovern is well known for his work alongside Bob Dole for the School Lunch Program. This federal program ensured that all children regardless of their family’s income would be provided a lunch at school.
“Nobody has found a better magnet to bring children into schools than the promise of a good meal,” McGovern said.
The program proved an immediate and dramatic increase in enrollment as well as an improvement in academic performance.
“The program improved education and health, and the George McGovern and Robert Dole Food for Nutrition and Education program is still working today,” McGovern said.
McGovern brings a multitude of experience to strengthen his success as a powerful leader.
In addition to McGovern’s knowledge on world hunger, he also is a minister of the Methodist church, college professor of history, a World War II bomber pilot, author of more than 15 books on the subject of hunger, world politics, and peace, and first director for the Food for Peace Program, which helped establish the World Food Program.
McGovern also spoke on campus in a symposium on Wednesday, titled “Pathways to Peace: The Roadblocks of Global Hunger and Genocide.”
Later that day, McGovern attended Professor Richard Gelm’s political science class, “Congress and the Presidency,” to discuss the similarities between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. “I disagree with foolish, unnecessary wars like the one going on now. Do I support the troops? Damn right. That’s why I don’t want them sent to die,” McGovern said.
Following his lecture Thursday morning, McGovern attended a communications department newsroom class, responding to student and faculty questions.
McGovern’s lecture series on campus this week was made possible by numerous groups and members of the community, notably the International Studies Institute and the Department of History and Political Science.
The University was graced by McGovern’s presence once before, in 2006, said Director of the International Studies Institute Kenneth Marcus.
“He spoke on “The Art of Diplomacy”: how one can use diplomatic means to solve world conflicts instead of through overt military power,” Marcus said.
His previous lecture was filled to maximum capacity, as was the “Ending Hunger in our Time” lecture. Students, faculty, and community members squeezed together along the La Fetra Auditorium stairs.
One of the student audience members asked McGovern what action can be taken in America to help starving members of our country.
“We could meet problems here by two steps: increasing the coverage of the food stamp program, and by a modest increase in the minimum wage,” McGovern said.
A North Pomona resident, Barbara Sayles, agreed with McGovern’s statements on peace and hunger.
“We should talk more about feeding people than killing them,” Sayles said.
McGovern’s lectures at ULV have been primarily to inform about the issues of world hunger, but also to inform the possibility of a solution.
“McGovern argues that we have the capacity to feed every man, woman and child, but it’s the will of the country to take action,” Gelm said.
“If ULV students, faculty and staff are motivated to learn more about these programs or even to become involved, that would be terrific,” Marcus said.
Lesley Michaels can be reached at email@example.com.