As students across the nation headed back to school, more than a third of the 3 million Texas school children who qualify for federal free and reduced-price lunches at school began each day without a school breakfast. During the summer break, even fewer had access to federal Summer Meals Programs.
Now a team of multidisciplinary researchers with Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) and Hankamer School of Business -- funded by a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation -- are on track to better understand the vast landscape of summer and afterschool federal child nutrition programs and what can be done to improve them, such as through the development of a fiscally sustainable year-round business model that can be replicated throughout the nation.
"The Walmart Foundation partnership is allowing us to do two critical things at once: increase the accessibility of Summer Meals for the children who need them today; and launch an innovative, interdisciplinary study in order to maximize the efficiency of Summer Meals programs across the state for the future," said Jeremy Everett, director of THI. "The findings from this study will help us move toward the ultimate goal of ending childhood hunger in Texas and will also provide a strategic plan for other states to follow suit."
The Texas Hunger Initiative -- based in the Baylor School of Social Work -- is a collaborative, capacity-building project that seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through education, research, policy, community organizing and community development. The latest grant awarded to THI and Baylor is part of Walmart's and the Walmart Foundation's $2 billion commitment through 2015 to fight hunger in America, and Walmart's 2011 initiative to provide customers with healthier and more affordable food choices.