A University of Guelph graduate hopes to help combat world hunger as a 2015-16 Kirchner Food Fellow.

Eamonn McGuinty, who this spring completed a commerce degree in food and agricultural business, was one of three students selected from universities across North America under the Kirchner Food Fellowship.

Run by the Kirchner Group, based in Alabama and now in its second year, the fellowship funds training to help three students each year develop companies to fight food insecurity.

Eamonn McGuinty
Eamonn McGuinty

McGuinty will begin a master’s program at Guelph in the fall. He and graduate students David Byrnes of Rutgers University and Sarah Piccini of Johns Hopkins University will each receive $10,000 and training from the Kirchner Group.

The Kirchner Group provides merchant banking and asset management services; in 2011, the group founded an agricultural social impact arm.

This year saw a number of strong applicants for the fellowships, said biomedical sciences professor Alastair Summerlee, executive director of the Kirchner Food Fellowship.

“I’m confident Sarah, David and Eamonn will be exemplary fellows, and look forward to working with them.”

McGuinty said: “I want to be part of the change within the agriculture and agri-food sector, and provide reliable access to healthy food for everyone on the planet.”

The Kirchner Food Fellows run a student-directed fund that invests in businesses meeting the students’ investment criteria, which they will develop over the coming year.

McGuinty said more and people live in poverty, a problem that will worsen with population growth and climate change.

“Even today, in a globalized economy powered by innovations like the Internet and mobile technologies, we still have many places in the world with a lack of medical support and insufficient access to food.”

He said studying at Guelph helped him learn how to address these issues.

He recently visited rural Nepal with a Guelph team looking at how sustainable agricultural kits developed at U of G are being adopted in that country. The majority of Nepalese people live on less than $1.25 a day.

He said challenges in developing countries include providing healthy food while creating jobs and stimulating economic activity.

“I have always wanted to be involved in funding young, for-profit, entrepreneurial ventures involved in combating food security issues, and this fellowship is a perfect fit for me,” McGuinty said.