Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative receives $7 million in grants to fight hunger and poverty
For more than a decade, Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) has worked to eradicate hunger in Texas, and to do so through a model that can be replicated elsewhere. This fall, THI has received more than $7 million in grants that will enable the organization to do more than ever.
In late September, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded a $5 million grant to THI’s Kathy Krey to test a new way of distributing food during the summer to rural kids. More than 3 million students in Texas receive free or reduced-price school meals, and THI’s efforts have led to an increase in the number of summer programs that continue to provide those meals even when school is out. Dr. Krey (BBA ’99, MA ’05, PhD ’08), THI’s director of research and administration, will oversee a test effort to deliver food by mail to students (particularly in rural areas) who are unable to utilize traditional summer meal programs.
Just a few days later, the Walmart Foundation announced a $2.6 million grant that will enable THI to expand its efforts to support Texas communities in assessing local hunger, evaluating barriers to food security, and finding long-term, community-driven solutions to hunger and poverty. The funds will also help THI continue to develop its statewide network of community coalitions, continue child nutrition program outreach, and conduct university-based research to evaluate and improve upon its work.
Since its launch in 2009, the Texas Hunger Initiative has worked to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing, and community development. Along with its office located within Baylor’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, THI has offices located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen and San Angelo.
This fall, Baylor is expanding its efforts in this realm with the formation of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. The Collaborative will serve as a new umbrella organization that will include THI, a research fellows program, the Global Hunger and Migration Project, the Hunger Data Lab, and more, with each area taking a different angle to addressing issues of hunger and poverty.
To date, THI has provided technical assistance to more than 25 states; the organization also plays a prominent role in Washington, D.C., in helping develop scalable solutions to address hunger and poverty nationwide. The reorganization, which will be led by longtime THI executive director Jeremy Everett (MDiv ’01) and Krey, offers the opportunity to better communicate why THI exists and how its model works.
“Our core belief is that hunger and poverty are too complex for any sector to comprehensively address alone,” says Everett. “The process towards these ends is to gather all actors around the same table to solve problems, encourage innovation and research new ideas. … The Collaborative will work to end hunger and share our proven hunger relief model across geographies and contexts.”
Sic ’em, Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty!