Building food security in Texas on common ground.
By Jeremy Everett, Director, Texas Hunger Initiative

The dream of the Texas Hunger Initiative began with the reality of a great need and a great strength in our state and in our country. We know that hunger exists in our state and the larger nation. More than 1 in 4 Texas children experience food insecurity, ranking Texas with the 5th highest percentage in the nation. Children and their families experience food insecurity right around us—even more than we may realize. Many children come to school without having eaten over the weekend, single mothers go without eating so that their children are fed, and still others make difficult choices between rent, electricity, and food each month.


However, in connection with this great need, is a great strength in our state and our nation; hunger is a unique problem because it is an arena where we typically find much common ground among multiple sectors in our society. Armored with the belief that hunger is both solvable and preventable, the Texas Hunger Initiative recognizes the capacity in our state that currently exists to build food security—this exists on all levels of government, including federal, state, and local. Capacity also exists through the nongovernment sector, including nonprofits, faith-based organizations, churches, and so on.


The work of the Texas Hunger Initiative seeks to reconcile this great need and this great capacity in our state. The collaborative, capacity-building efforts of the Texas Hunger Initiative emphasize the dual need to organize policy makers, as well as to organize local communities. Our work began by partnering with the USDA to promote creative, comprehensive ways to increase food security through federal program access for all Texans. This initial trust-building among policy-makers on the federal and state levels catalyzes the efficiency of the overarching system that impacts healthy food access on local levels.


In addition to organizing on the policy level, organizing local communities began with the need to eliminate barriers to access healthy food. Food Planning Associations are being organized in communities across the state, and they are bringing together diverse community members to one table and assessing the needs and assets within the community. These local associations seek to address the gaps, reduce duplication of services, and work with members of various organizations, schools, churches, social service agencies, as well as local officials.


Our dual focus on organizing at the policy and local level has led to exciting change and expansion of collaborative efforts throughout the state. As the Texas Hunger Initiative grows in internal and external capacity, movement toward food security is being realized through expanding partnerships. The Texas Hunger Initiative is expanding geographically with new offices in communities that will lead to a permanent presence in 12 communities across the state. We are excited to be expanding our focus on SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), Summer Meals, and Breakfast in the Classroom.


The story of the Texas Hunger Initiative is still unfolding. We are still in process; we are still researching, developing, and learning. As director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, I have found that building trust in communities—all forms of communities, including geographic, political, and interest—is essential in moving forward. It is truly the cornerstone of our work and the basis of all our organizing and collaborative strategies.


As part of World Food Day, we are reminded of globalization and the interconnectedness of our world. We are reminded of our neighbors overseas who experience high food insecurity and how the economic and political decisions we make in our state and our nation affect our neighboring countries, and vice versa. We are therefore aware of the importance of communication, relationships, and collaboration across all sectors. The interconnectedness of our communities and the concepts of mutuality and reciprocity among all members of a community constitute the moral underpinnings of the Texas Hunger Initiative; we need the strengths, assets, and efforts of all people, all institutions, all organizations, recognizing we are all a part of the solution, to build food security in our state, our nation, and world.

Jeremy Everett is Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University.

 


This World Food Day join your local hunger free coalition to build food security in your community.  


Attend the Southwest Regional Hunger Summit “Together at the Table”, October 17-18, 2012 at Baylor University.  The Hunger Summit will be an opportunity for leaders and practitioners from across the Southwest United States to share their knowledge and expertise about food insecurity.



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@Stine613 tweeted link to this page. 2012-10-11 20:10:39 -0400
Building food security in Texas on common ground. http://t.co/wdrUjQks