Photograph of the front façade of Baylor University’s historic Pat Neff Hall, a three-story brick building with a gabled portico and tower marking the entrance.
Photograph of dozens of attendees at the 2016 Dallas Hunger Summit seated at tables in a large meeting room and watching a presentation.
Photograph of eight children receiving an entrée, fresh fruit, and milk at a cafeteria line staffed by four adults.
Photograph of five children inside a classroom selecting breakfast items from insulated containers.
Photograph of dozens of attendees eating lunch at round banquet tables in a large meeting room.
Photograph of two people making a presentation to approximately a dozen community members in a classroom.
Photograph of two volunteers working in a backyard vegetable garden.
Photograph of six No Kid Hungry campaign volunteers holding signs identifying their respective cities: Austin, Dallas, Shreveport, La Feria, and Oil City.
Photograph of 15 students and faculty with the capitol in the background.

 

Home >Case Studies >Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative Strives for a Hunger-Free America

 

Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative Strives for a Hunger-Free America

 

The Great Recession caused a spike in food insecurity — insufficient or inconsistent access to healthy food — with the national percentage of food-insecure households rising from 11 percent in 2007 to 14.7 percent in 2009. In Texas, the increase in households enduring insecurity was even more profound, from an average of 15.9 percent for 2004 through 2006 to an average of 18.5 percent for 2009 through 2011. Governments, faith communities, businesses, and nonprofits around the state were working diligently to address the multifaceted problem, but their activities were generally uncoordinated. Baylor University and the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas founded the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) to support these organizations in their efforts to reduce hunger.

Building Collective Strength in Antihunger Programs

Originally hosted at the Diana Garland School of Social Work and now housed in Baylor’s Office of the Provost, THI is a collaborative project working to end food insecurity through capacity building and coordinating the antihunger infrastructure. THI engages in policy advocacy, education campaigns, community organizing and development, and research to improve the impact of existing organizations and programs. Currently, THI works in two functional program categories: Child Nutrition Programs and Hunger Free Communities.

THI’s Child Nutrition Programs strengthen and expand meal programs for children. THI’s eight regional offices work with local school districts and community providers on childhood nutrition programs funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — School Breakfast, Afterschool Meals, and Summer Meals. THI and its local partners collaborate to increase the number of sites where meals are available, the efficiency of meal delivery methods, and the number of participating students. In 2011, THI partnered with Share Our Strength to launch the No Kid Hungry Texas campaign, a public-private partnership to improve childhood food security and healthy eating throughout the state.

One way in which THI assists children’s meals programs is through research that nonprofits and school districts use to better plan, implement, and evaluate their programs. For example, THI has recruited faculty members from Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business to design business models that help nonprofit providers remain solvent and expand their services. THI has also developed several alternatives that increase participation and decrease waste in School Breakfast programs by changing where, when, and how the meal is provided. Since 2012, THI has facilitated the delivery of 72 million school breakfasts to Texas children by recruiting new providers and improving participation at existing sites. In 2016, the Texas Department of Agriculture presented THI with the Fresh Perspectives award for its approach to improving outcomes of the Summer Meals programs.

Hunger Free Communities (HFCs) — previously called food planning associations — are coalitions that address food insecurity at the local level in six locations across the state: Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, the Rio Grande Valley, and San Angelo. THI provides a paid staff member from the regional office to handle the administrative and organizational demands of such a grouping. “Hunger is a macro-social issue” that requires organizations from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to come together in HFC coalitions, says THI founder and director Jeremy Everett. “THI’s job is to get everyone working together to leverage the collective strength of all organizations working within a given community.”

The Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions

Among THI’s network of HFC organizations, the largest is the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions (DCHS), which was a major inspiration for the HFC program. Established in 2012 with the help of an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer deployed by THI and now staffed by a coordinator working out of THI’s Dallas office, DCHS’ mission is “to empower residents to gain equal access to healthy food.” Chaired by U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson representing the Texas 30th District in the Dallas area, DCHS has more than 150 member organizations that contribute hundreds of volunteers to the coalition’s antihunger efforts.

DCHS is organized into five action teams focusing on specific populations or areas of work. The Child Hunger Action Team has expanded participation in the Afterschool Meals program from 28 schools in the Dallas Independent School District to 176 by preparing member organizations to approach principals and offer support. The Urban Agriculture Action Team successfully lobbied for changes to the Dallas municipal code to allow urban farms and markets and published a guide to help gardeners navigate the new rules. The Faith Community Hunger Solutions Action Team developed “Hunger Solutions Guide for the Faith Community,” a toolkit that has been distributed to more than 500 Dallas-area congregations and faith-based organizations since 2014. The Senior Hunger Action Team has been working to increase senior enrollment in programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Neighborhood Organizing Action Team launched Empowering Oak Cliff, a neighborhood-specific antihunger coalition.

Working to End Hunger Nationwide

Although THI works primarily in Texas, its ambitions are national in scope, and its impact has been felt throughout the country. “Texas is our laboratory,” explains Everett, “where we can see in real time what’s working and what’s not working.” At Baylor, THI is educating the future leaders of antihunger organizations by partnering with Baylor Missions to send Baylor University students to Washington, DC, on an eight-day mission trip to learn about hunger and the national policy landscape each spring. Baylor students can also participate by becoming a youth ambassador in the No Kid Hungry Texas campaign, volunteering at THI’s annual “Together at the Table” Hunger and Poverty Summit, or by becoming an AmeriCorps volunteer in a THI office.

THI has applied its Texas experience in almost every state that is working on food security. Significantly, a foundation in Oklahoma invited THI to consult with anti-hunger organizations across the state on developing a statewide capacity-building organization, and in 2016, these organizations launched Hunger Free Oklahoma. On the national level, THI has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to apply its program delivery research to federal nutrition programs and has testified before dozens of congressional committees, with Everett serving on the National Commission on Hunger in 2014.


 

Source:

U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2016. “Interactive Chart: Food Security Trends.” Accessed 15 November 2016; Interview with Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, 28 October 2016; U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “Key Statistics and Graphics.” Accessed 2 December 2016; Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. 2012. “Household Food Security in the United States in 2011,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Report Number 141, 17. Accessed 2 December 2016; Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. 2010. “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Report Number 108, 21. Accessed 2 December 2016.

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Source:

Baylor University. n.d. “Texas Hunger Initiative: About Us.” Accessed 20 October 2016; Interview with Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, 28 October 2016; Correspondence from Kasey Ashenfelter, director of communications with the Texas Hunger Initiative, 6 January 2017.

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Source:

Baylor University. n.d. “Texas Hunger Initiative: Child Nutrition Programs.” Accessed 21 October 2016; No Kid Hungry Texas. n.d. “About Us.” Accessed 24 October 2016; Baylor University. n.d. “Texas Hunger Initiative: Where We Are.” Accessed 21 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, 28 October 2016; Lori Fogelman. 2016. “Texas Department of Agriculture Honors Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative with ‘Fresh Perspectives’ Award,” press release, 23 February. Accessed 20 October 2016; U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “Backing Breakfast Resource Guide: Starting the Day Right!” 6–7. Accessed 21 October 2016; Correspondence from Kasey Ashenfelter, director of communications with the Texas Hunger Initiative, 6 January 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Jeremy Everett, 28 October 2016; Baylor University. n.d. “Texas Hunger Initiative: Hunger Free Communities.” Accessed 21 October 2016; Interview with Wyonella Henderson-Greene, coordinator of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, 1 November 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Wyonella Henderson-Greene, 1 November 2016; Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. n.d. “About Us.” Accessed 1 November 2016; Correspondence with Kasey Ashenfelter, director of communications from the Texas Hunger Initiative, 6 January 2017.

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Source:

Interview with Wyonella Henderson-Greene, 1 November 2016; Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. n.d. “Child Hunger Action Team.” Accessed 1 November 2016; Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. n.d. “Urban Agriculture Action Team.” Accessed 1 November 2016; Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. n.d. “Faith Community Hunger Solutions Action Team.” Accessed 1 November 2016; Correspondence from Wyonella Henderson-Greene, 5 January 2017; Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. n.d. “Senior Hunger Action Team.” Accessed 1 November 2016; Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. n.d. “Neighborhood Organizing Action Team.” Accessed 1 November 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Jeremy Everett, 28 October 2016; Baylor University, Baylor Missions. n.d. “Washington DC: Hunger in America.” Accessed 15 November 2016; Baylor University. n.d. “Texas Hunger Initiative: Opportunities for Students.” Accessed 21 October 2016.

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Source:

Interview with Jeremy Everett, 28 October 2016; Samford University. 2016. “Alumni Profiles: Jeremy Everett.” Accessed 5 December 2016; Correspondence from Kasey Ashenfelter, director of communications with the Texas Hunger Initiative, 6 January 2017.

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