Starr, U.S. Rep lead talk over hunger initiative

By Sara Katherine Johnson

The sixth annual Hunger and Poverty Summit at Baylor, “Together at the Table,” will conclude today with a discussion between President and Chancellor Ken Starr and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.

At 11 a.m. in the Baylor Club at McLane Stadium, Starr and Castro will discuss practical methods for reducing poverty and domestic hunger.

The summit took place this week as part of a collaboration between the Texas Hunger Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nonprofit Feeding Texas. A series of leaders came together to discuss food insecurities around the nation.

“If we all work together from different sectors, we can comprehensively address the issues to end hunger,” said Jeremy Everett, director of Texas Hunger Initiative.

Everett said the summit was attended by 400 people from around the country and participants are leaders from a variety of disciplines who are eager to share.

“Research guides our priorities,” Everett said. “We practice informed engagement. We listen to the industry, determine what is the best thing happening in it and then we go find those people. That’s how we find our speakers.”

Other keynote speakers in the past have included Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America; Greg Kaufmann, senior fellow with the Half in Ten campaign at the Center for American Progress; Audrey Rowe, administrator of Food and Nutrition Services for the USDA; Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; and Dr. Linda English, clinical assistant professor in the business school.

Rebecca Kennedy, Baylor’s director of missions, said a few years ago Baylor missions decided to partner with the summit to present their Missions Fair instead of running their own event. Kennedy said it was more impactful for getting their message to students this way.

“Hunger and poverty are definitely a mission’s initiative to alleviate those,” Kennedy said. “We want students to understand how faith influences the world. We want them to know how their careers can help expand the kingdom.”

Wes Gaddie, a Texas Hunger Initiative staff field organizer, presented a project he has seen from Lubbock. Gaddie, who is also a Baylor alumnus, created a display of pictures showcasing six residents who experience food insecurity and documented parts of their lives.

The pictures will continue to be displayed in the Bill Daniel Student Center on the second floor in the Fentress Room through the end of the summit.

The picture project was inspired by a session at last year’s summit, Gaddie said. Now, after another year of success, Waco’s own division of the Texas Hunger Initiative is in the process of starting a photo series project, documenting food insecurities in the area. Waco participants will document for a year their journey with point-and-shoot cameras they have been provided.

Gaddie said this is the kind of project students need to be paying attention to.

In Lubbock, where Gaddie works with Texas Hunger Initiative, he still goes to meetings where people are unaware Lubbock has a food problem. He said that while no one may be starving to death, there are still families forced to choose between buying medication or food.

“It’s easy to be focused on what you have going on and not thinking about the outside world,” Gaddie said. “Knowing the situation of the city you live in is important. Having an understanding and a compassion for your fellow man is why students should be there.”

More information about “Together at the Table” can be found at