Graduate students from Northwestern University’s Medill Journalism program spent three months investigating the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Their work revealed waste and inefficiency, but also revealed solutions to the problems they saw. The resulting multimedia project, “Hunger Pains: US food program struggles to move forward,” was published by USA Today last September.

This is a vital read: USAID (and related food assistance work) represents the largest food aid effort in the world. The multimedia site also provides historical context for the program, which was created not only for humanitarian purposes, but to open new foreign markets to U.S. exports. There are superb infographics, images, and video.

There is a second story here, one which documents the experiences of the students participating in Medill’s National Security Journalism Initiative. The initiative is challenging the scope of traditional national security journalism to include emerging threats (in this case, food security, but also climate change and military health).

The students worked with USA Today to frame the project. Jasmine Rangel Leonas writes this after speaking to Josh Meyer, who works on the initiative:

“From the beginning it was a full collaboration with a big media partner,” Meyer said. “The students were given an up close and personal view of what it was like to work with a major media organization and across all digital platforms.”