Mission Possible

Think that world hunger can’t be overcome? Bettina Luescher begs to differ.

Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. But Bettina Luescher MA’85 keeps her message about hunger simple: it’s a problem that can be solved, and people can help.

For $10, you can feed a child in a Kenyan refugee camp for three weeks. Or, for the price of two lattes, you can buy enough lifesaving biscuits to feed an earthquake survivor for sixteen days.

As chief spokesperson and celebrity coordinator in North America for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, Luescher seamlessly drops these statistics into conversation.

Her job has taken the former CNN anchor to Sudan with rapper 50 Cent and into the guest chair on David Letterman’s late-night talk show to discuss drought in the Horn of Africa and the humanitarian crisis in the wake of the Haiti earthquake.

In an interview with On Wisconsin during a recent visit to campus from New York, Luescher said none of the steps in her career would have taken place without the Fulbright scholarship that brought her to the United States from her native Germany. And she said that coming to UW–Madison, where she lived at Rochdale International Co-op on West Gilman Street, was like landing in “heaven.”

Story by Jenny Price. Originally published in On Wisconsin. Read the full story.