Texas Hunger Initiative Hosts 'Together at the Table: Southwest Regional Hunger Summit'

Together at the Table: SW Regional Hunger Summit
Oct. 16, 2012

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Leading Anti-Hunger Groups from Across the Southwest Gather at Baylor University to Learn from Experts and Each Other

WACO, Texas (Oct. 16, 2012) -- The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI), a statewide anti-hunger organization within the Baylor University School of Social Work, in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), will host "Together at the Table: Southwest Regional Hunger Summit" at Baylor University on Oct. 17-18, 2012.

Anti-hunger organizations and advocacy groups from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana and District of Columbia will participate in more than 25 sessions and panels during the two-day summit. Attendees will include representatives from food banks, school districts, congregations, academic institutions, state departments and hunger-relief alliances, among other organizations.

More than 65 speakers and panelists from across the Southwest and beyond will lead these sessions, which encourage interaction among attendees who can share best practices and learn from others' experiences in the fight to end hunger.

"The keys to alleviating hunger are organizing communities, creating models that are replicable and scalable, identifying the most efficient ways to distribute food and connecting those who suffer from food insecurity with the resources available to help them--all of which will be addressed during this summit," said Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative. "Presenters, panelists and attendees will learn from each other and then go home and implement these strategies in their local communities."

Texas currently ranks third in the nation in food insecure households. This means that at some point in the last year, one in six Texas households either experienced hunger outright or altered their consumption to avoid going hungry. Additionally, Texas has the eleventh-highest rate of childhood food insecurity with 1.8 million children not knowing where their next meal will come from, especially when they're not in school. However, Texas ranked second in childhood food insecurity in 2009 when THI hosted its first hunger summit.

These issues are not unique to Texas and many Southwest states share similar unsettling statistics. However, unlike other challenges associated with poverty, hunger can be solved and the necessary funding--and infrastructure in many cases--already exists to do so. Low participation in nutrition assistance programs often means that states miss out on millions of dollars in federal funding that they desperately need.

"The USDA is committed to helping alleviate hunger through the use of federal nutrition assistance programs and partnerships with organizations such as THI," said Bill Ludwig, USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Regional Administrator. "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."

This summit will focus on proven methods to move the needle on hunger--be it through increasing participation in child nutrition assistance programs such as the National School Breakfast Program or creating local food planning associations to truly address the challenges and barriers in a certain community. Other breakout session topics include senior hunger, food banks, state policy, federal policy, congregational outreach and urban gardening, to name a few. Additionally, the USDA's new school meal nutrition standards will be discussed and an economic study about free and reduced-price school breakfast and lunch participation will be released.

Four keynote addresses will be given by renowned speakers. Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author David Shipler will present "The Working Poor" and University of Illinois Professor Craig Gundersen will present "An Overview of the Effectiveness of Various Approaches to Addressing Food Insecurity in the United States." Additionally, Harriet Phillips with Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe's Office will present "Hunger in the Land of Plenty: Moving the Dial on Hunger in Arkansas" and Kori Reed with ConAgra Foods Foundation and Cause will present "Corporate Solutions to End Hunger."

The Southwest Regional Hunger Summit is sponsored by ConAgra, Walmart and DairyMAX. For more information about THI and the Southwest Regional Hunger Summit, visit www.baylor.edu/texashunger.

About The Texas Hunger Initiative

The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building collaborative project out of Baylor University's School of Social Work that seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through policy, education, community organizing and community development. THI seeks to make the state food secure by ensuring that every individual living in Texas has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-governmental organizations, churches and local providers to develop a plan for efficient use and delivery of our current resources to hungry individuals and families.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT THE BAYLOR SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

The Baylor University School of Social Work is home to one of the leading graduate social work programs in the nation with a research agenda focused on the integration of faith and practice. Upholding its mission of preparing social workers in a Christian context for worldwide service and leadership, the School offers a baccalaureate degree (BSW), a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and three joint-degree options (MSW/Master of Business Administration, MSW/Master of Divinity and MSW/Master of Theological Studies) through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Visit www.baylor.edu/social_work to learn more.

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