Texas Department of Agriculture Honors Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative with ‘Fresh Perspectives’ Award
Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
WACO, Texas (Feb. 23, 2016) – Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) – a collaborative project dedicated to developing and implementing multiple strategies to end hunger – has been honored with the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Fresh Perspectives Award for its innovative approach to improving outcomes of the summer meals program.
The award was presented to THI Feb. 19 during TDA’s 2016 Summer Good Service Program Conference in Austin.
“I am incredibly grateful that the Texas Hunger Initiative is being recognized by the Texas Department of Agriculture for innovation in addressing childhood hunger during the summer months when food insecurity is at its peak,” said Jeremy Everett, THI’s director.
“This award is credit to Baylor University’s informed engagement approach of using research to inform community engagement strategies which have yielded millions of additional meals each summer to children in Texas. TDA and THI, together with our partners across the great state of Texas, are moving us ever closer to the goal of ending hunger and reducing poverty,” Everett said.
The Fresh Perspectives Award was presented to THI by Angela Olige, TDA’s assistant commissioner for food and nutrition. During her remarks, Olige highlighted successful examples of THI’s innovative approaches to the summer meals program, including:
• Five-year plan: THI developed methods over this span for increasing overall Summer Food Service Program participation and also increased access in rural areas through collaboration with TDA.
• Excellence in Summer Meals Campaign: THI recognized summer meals sponsors in Dallas who met or exceeded best practices based on voluntary, independent evaluations that focused on food quality, programming and community outreach. This effort was created as a way to distinguish high-performing sponsors, as well as to create an incentive for sponsors to strive for excellence. THI was the first to apply this list of best practices in an evaluation process and recognition program.
• Adopt A Week: THI encouraged community organizations to provide activities, citing THI’s Amarillo office, which worked with community organizations near a summer meals site to provide activities for children. Sponsors can facilitate a similar model in their communities by contacting local churches, social service organizations and local public agencies.
• Literacy Efforts: THI partnered with existing organizations to facilitate access to books at summer meals sites, citing the example of bookmobiles accompanying Waco-area mobile summer meals routes so children could receive books to read and return throughout the summer. THI worked with efforts, such as First Book, in various locations throughout the state to provide books at faith-based sites and nonprofit sites and also partnered with libraries to serve as sites themselves or promote sites in their communities.
• Site Promotion: THI organized 30-plus kickoff and media events and distributed materials to promote local sites.
Kathy Krey, Ph.D., THI’s director of research, accepted the award, thanking TDA and its food and nutrition staff for their efforts to bring “fresh ideas and perspectives” to the summer meals program in Texas. THI and its field staff work alongside TDA and summer meals sponsors to “support robust programs and garner community support for these efforts,” she said.
“It is a privilege to work in this space,” Krey said. “Through our research at the state office, we examine trends in summer meals implementation which inform the outreach of our field offices. We aim to ensure all Texans have access to three meals a day, seven days a week. All of us working together are crucial to turning this into a reality and making Texas more food secure.”
For more information about the Texas Hunger Initiative, visit www.baylor.edu/texashunger. For more information about food and nutrition program, including summer meals, visit the Texas Department of Agriculture at www.squaremeals.org.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 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 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT THE TEXAS HUNGER INITIATIVE
The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University is a capacity-building and collaborative project, which develops and implements strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. THI works to make the state food secure by ensuring that every individual has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-profits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas. Along with its Central Office located within the Diana Garland School of Social Work at Baylor, THI has 12 regional offices located in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco.