Gavin Armstrong, a biomedical science PhD student, has received the inaugural Michaëlle Jean Emergency Hunger Relief Award.

Jean presented him with the award Wednesday in Ottawa during a University of Guelph alumni event.

The award was created by U of G and Universities Fighting World Hunger in 2011 during the  sixth annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit, which was held in Guelph and co-hosted by Armstrong and president Alastair Summerlee. It was the first time the event was held in Canada.

The Michaëlle Jean Emergency Hunger Relief Award honours the humanitarian work of the UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti and former governor general and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, especially her work in Haiti after the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

“We felt that there was no better way to recognize Canadian students who are working to better conditions for people around the world than to create an award that carries Madame Jean’s name,” president Alastair Summerlee said when the award was announced.

Armstrong was selected to receive the award by an independent committee. He was chosen for bringing the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit to Canada and for organizing activities to help raise awareness and engage students to deal with hunger in a permanent and lasting way.

This includes two “world record” challenges to help send emergency relief meals to people in need. The most recent event was held Sept. 9, and some 2,000 members of the greater Guelph community packaged more than 315,000 emergency relief meals in one hour.