By Alex Bennett, Reporter
Multiple associations throughout the United States dedicate themselves to different causes. One such organization is the Texas Hunger Initiative. The organization works to research programs, effects and the consequences of efforts to reduce childhood hunger across Texas and the rest of America. In March and May, they coordinate two mission trips with Baylor students to learn more about what’s being done to combat hunger and see firsthand the people affected by hunger.
According to data obtained from the Texas Department of Agriculture, over 5 million more summer meals were served in 2014 than in 2009 when the Texas Hunger Initiative was founded, and participation in summer meals increased from 11.8 percent to 14.5 percent. Additionally, as of 2014, 65 million more schools served breakfast and 337,000 more kids per day ate school breakfast compared to the 2008-2009 school year.
The Texas Hunger Initiative partners with many organizations to combat hunger nationwide, including Baylor Urban Missions, which organizes two mission trips focused on learning more about the situation at hand. The Hunger in America mission trip in Washington, D.C. is from May 15-22, 2016. The Hunger in Texas trip takes place during spring break on March 5-12, 2016.
Christine Browder, the director of government relations and strategic partnership at the Texas Hunger Initiative, is one of three team leaders in the Hunger in America trip that goes to Washington, D.C. She started working part-time with THI as an undergraduate student, continued as a graduate student and then started working full time after graduating. She said on the trip students look at the causes, scope and impact of hunger and different types of intervention.
“We hear year after year from our students coming back that they have a really incredible experience,” Browder said.
The trip is interdisciplinary and involves students from a variety of majors coming together to learn and serve.
“This trip allowed me to understand that though I do not have a college degree yet, I can still advocate for and serve those in need,” said Seguin senior Haley Imhoff.
Other students discovered more about themselves and their beliefs on the trip.
“The trip was challenging in that it made me dig further into my political views on different things,” said Springfield, Ill., senior Justine Dietz. “I was challenged to think about how God would want us to treat his people through the government.”
Antananarivo, Madagascar, junior Lydia Spann said there was a difference between knowing about the situation and actually seeing it.
“It is one thing to have a working knowledge of how the government operates and what efforts are being made to combat hunger in America, but another to see it firsthand and get a taste of the complexity of the work that is still to be done,” Spann said.
This difference between knowing and seeing is something members of the Texas Hunger Initiative like Grace Norman, the No Kid Hungry campaign manager, hope for specifically.
“As an overarching takeaway, my personal goal is to move from seeing statistics and numbers that define the issues to really seeing the people that are impacted by community-based solutions,” Norman said.
Browder also said on the trip, which includes visits to various organizations and legislators, is a reception for Baylor alumni that help students develop skills in networking and professional development, and see how they can apply the skills that they are learning.
“It’s fun to see and kind of watch throughout the trip as our students begin to realize the opportunities where they might be able to take their skills and passions,” Browder said, “and plug that in, coming from a place motivated by their faith.”
Space is still available for both mission trips, and students can apply online at baylor.edu/missions until Dec. 2.