School of Social Work joins groups across state lines to end hunger

By Laurean Love

Staff Writer

Baylor’s School of Social Work Texas Hunger Initiative partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture, hosting 200 attendees during the first day of Together at the Table: Southwest Regional Hunger Summit to raise awareness in the community. The summit continues through today on the second floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

“We pledged to each other to work together, to collaborate,” Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, said. “We are all responsible for hunger. So now it’s time to do something about it. As a result of that, we have done a fantastic job in this state at addressing hunger. We have now dropped down to 11 on the list in just a few years. This year we will serve 15 million more breakfasts to kids who weren’t eating breakfast last year. We have well over a million people today have access to food.”

Texas is the third-hungriest state in the nation, with one in six households experiencing hunger, according to statistics provided by the Texas Hunger Initiative.

1.8 million children do not know where their next meal will come from, bringing Texas in at the 11th-highest rate of childhood food insecurity.

Food insecurity occurs when an individual faces hunger or lives in fear of starvation.

The Texas Hunger Initiative began in February of 2009.

When the Texas Hunger Initiative hosted its first hunger summit, Texas was ranked second in food insecurity.

The Texas Hunger Initiative has joined forces with Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, which are now collectively called the Southwest Regional Hunger Summit.

Sponsoring the Hunger Summit are Walmart, ConAgra Foods and Dairymax along with several others.

According to the ConAgra Foods Foundation website, ConAgra Foods Foundation is committed to raising awareness of child hunger in America, aggressively pursuing sustainable solutions to end it and building a community of people who are passionate about joining the Southwest Regional Hunger Summit in the fight to end child hunger.

“I really champion our cause of hunger both in Omaha and across the country,” said Kori Reed, vice president of Cause & ConAgra Foods Foundation. “We’ve funded this conference because we really believe in collaboration and bringing people together around a common theme to make a difference in this space. Primarily to drive awareness of what we’re doing, but to learn. For me, I like to learn from people who are doing great work.”

The Hunger Initiative received a $230,000 support gift in 2011 after partnering with Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit organization to fight childhood hunger in Texas.

This year’s keynote speakers include Pulitzer Prize winner, David Shipler, Craig Gundersen and Harriet Phillips.

“The USDA is committed to helping alleviate hunger through the use of federal nutrition assistance programs and partnerships with organizations such as THI,” Bill Ludwig, USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southwest regional administrator, said in a press release. “In a region like the Southwest with a high rate of food insecurity, it is especially important for advocates to work together to create, share and implement strategies to end hunger.”

The Texas Hunger Initiative believes that by addressing hunger from the policy level and from the grassroots level, coordinating services and resources across the state, the state of Texas can bring security to its citizens.