Texas Hunger Initiative
The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building, collaborative project dedicated to developing and implementing strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with nonprofits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas.
THI believes that Texas has enough food to feed the people of Texas but that the system making food accessible needs to be organized. It is working to end hunger by initiating collaboration, sharing innovative ideas through research, and informing public policy, in Texas and beyond.
Housed within Baylor University, THI is uniquely positioned to lead in research, utilizing the University’s extensive academic network to measure and evaluate existing food programs in order to improve them. Partnering with experts across the academic disciplines, THI’s research team is determined to make research relating to food insecurity both collaborative and actionable. The research THI conducts informs its policy and advocacy work, which in turn informs its programs and outreach, and the effectiveness of its programs is continuously evaluated by this research. The reverse is also true, as THI’s programs and outreach inform what research needs to be done and where policy education is needed.
Serving Across Texas
The Texas Hunger Initiative’s Central Office is currently housed in the Baylor University School of Social Work in downtown Waco. THI also has 12 regional offices across the state that fight hunger on a local level in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco.
Changing Systems to Strengthen Families
THI works with and is funded by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission for the Community Partner Recruitment Initiative (CPRI), created to support the Community Partner Program (CPP) in Texas. Each of THI’s 12 regional offices recruit and support a wide range of nonprofit, faith-based, local and statewide community groups to become Community Partners. These Community Partners provide individuals with the technology and know-how to access YourTexasBenefits.com to apply for state benefits. Through CPRI, THI is helping low-income Texas families access needed resources in a much more efficient way.
Addressing Childhood Hunger Year-Round
- Expansion of the School Breakfast - THI reaches out to school districts throughout Texas to discuss the importance of breakfast in the daily lives of students. Beyond that, THI helps school districts implement Universal School Breakfast programs and alternative breakfast delivery models such as Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab-and-Go Breakfast.
- Expansion of the Afterschool Meals Program - The federal Afterschool Meals Program funds afterschool meals and snacks year-round. THI is working to expand participation to ensure that all children have access to afterschool meals.
- Expansion of the Summer Meals Program - For families who count on school breakfast and lunch, the summer months can stress tight family food budgets. The USDA offers free meals to children age 18 and under through the Summer Food Service Program. THI recruits new Summer Meal sites, helps sites develop and enhance activities offered, and creatively works to increase participation at Summer Meals sites.
Helping Communities Address Their Needs
THI works within communities to help establish Food Planning Associations (FPAs). There are good people doing great work in every community in Texas, but often they are not connected with each other. THI brings these groups together by assessing the work being done in their communities, identifying gaps in services and collaborating to work toward food security. This work is funded by the ConAgra Foundation.
The Texas Hunger Initiative was started in 2009 as partnership between Baylor University and the Christian Life Commission (a division of the Southern Baptist Convention, with which Baylor is affiliated) with funding from The Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger. It has since expanded to include partnerships with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), ConAgra Foods Foundation, and Share Our Strength. Their work has been featured on the White House website.
- 2009 - With support from the Texas Christian Life Commission, Jeremy Everett founds THI in Baylor’s School of Social Work. Soon after, THI establishes a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, San Angelo volunteers pilot a Summer meals model, increasing meals served by 1700 percent in their area in one summer.
- 2010 - THI receives AmeriCorps VISTAs on staff for the first time.
- 2011 - THI becomes Share Our Strength's official No Kid Hungry partner in Texas, and adds 300 summer meal sites statewide.
- 2012 - THI Director Jeremy Everett co-hosts a PBS Documentary on childhood hunger and obesity. THI and partners add more than 700 summer meal sites, and the second Hunger Summit draws participation from across the Southwest.
- 2013 - THI receives $3.5 million annual contract from HHSC to develop a statewide public-private partnership, and establishes 12 regional offices across Texas. A two-year, 2 million dollar grant from the Walmart Foundation establishes a research collaboration between THI and Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.
- 2014 - THI Director Jeremy Everett is appointed to the National Commission on Hunger by House Speaker John Boehner. THI partners with Texas A&M AgriLife.
- "THI - About". Texas Hunger Initiative. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "Welcome Home! Texas Hunger Initiative". Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- "Tackling A Texas-Sized Problem: Visiting Our Partners In Dallas". Share Our Strength. Retrieved 11 August 2011.