By Ashley Yeaman
Baylor’s School of Social Work Texas Hunger Initiative is partnering with Share Our Strength, a national non-profit organization, to fight childhood hunger in Texas.
The four-year partnership will focus on the No Kid Hungry campaign, a national effort to end food insecurity in children by 2015.
Food insecurity occurs when an individual faces hunger or lives in fear of starvation.
Share Our Strength will provide $230,000 to the Texas Hunger Initiative this year to fund its activities. In addition to funds, the partnership also brings a wealth of experience to the initiative.
Share Our Strength has partnered with several other public and private organizations in more than 13 states to streamline the administration of organizations that support childhood food programs, said Beth Drew, the No Kid Hungry campaign manager at the Texas Hunger Initiative.
“In any project, it’s very beneficial to have someone who’s been there, done that and has that practical experience,” Drew said. “I think it’s a great partnership.”
When Dr. Jeremy Everett, director of Texas Hunger Initiative, met with Share Our Strength prior to the finalization of the partnership, he said he felt the two organizations shared common goals.
“Their dreams for domestic food insecurity reduction seemed to be just simply in line with what we’re doing,” Everett said. Texas Hunger Initiative and Share Our Strength will work together this year on two primary objectives: to increase access to breakfast for children through in-school programs and expand access to summer meal programs.
“Our goal is that we will increase overall breakfast consumption in Texas by 6 percent this year, which will affect 89,000 children each day,” Everett said. Their efforts will target 10 school districts.
“In the summer of 2010, we increased summer meal access by 2 million meals over the course of the summer for kids in Texas. Our goal for 2011 is to match that number,” he said.
Drew said the two organizations will work with state agencies and private programs.
“We’re working on the state and local level to make sure these programs, like Breakfast in the Classroom and summer meal programs, run as efficiently as possible,” Drew said. “Money just sits up in the federal government right now, and we’re not utilizing it as best we can.”
Drew said the best way to implement these programs involves cooperation between state and private agencies.
To coordinate conversation among groups, task forces will be established to focus on specific projects, such as the summer meals program, Drew said.
Drew said the ultimate goal is to change the current system.
“Changing the actual infrastructure of the system is going to be a lot more beneficial in the long run than trying to figure out where the next handout is going to come from,” said Drew.
“That’s not to say that those programs are bad. Food banks are incredible, and there’s an absolute need for them. But our goal is to make sure that infrastructure is in place so we can get the money we need for this and people can get the food they need,” she added.
To jumpstart awareness of the No Kid Hungry campaign, the Texas Hunger Initiative organized a media event from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Oct. 12, on the south steps of the State Capitol in Austin.
Baylor students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the launch and an information session on childhood hunger that will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Room E2.014 at the Capitol.
Transportation will be provided. To RSVP, visit www.texashunger.org.
At Baylor, the Texas Hunger Initiative and CitySquare, a non-profit that exists to fight the roots of poverty, hosted a screening of the documentary “Food Stamped” on Sept. 29, followed by a panel discussion.
This event marked the beginning of a lecture series that will engage students on hunger issues, said Laura Hilton, program coordinator at Texas Hunger Initiative.
“We’d like to develop sort of a consistent way for students to be involved with THI and to just gain from hearing some of the people we get to work with on a day-to-day basis,” Hilton said.
Everett said the lectures can also show students how it’s possible to make positive changes toward stamping out issues such as hunger.
The next lecture will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 3 in the School of Social Work Room 320.
There will also be a second media launch event for the No Kid Hungry campaign. It will occur Nov. 9 in Dallas at the Dallas Farmers Market.