Friday, November 11, 2011

Dallas No Kid Hungry Summit

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: “We will not stop until we know that every child is fed.”
            On Wednesday, November 9th the Texas Hunger Initiative hosted a “No Kid Hungry Dallas Summit,” in partnership with Share our Strength, USDA, The Christian Life Commission, CitySquare, and Feed3 all the Dallas Farmer’s Market.  

"Next Steps" - a Q&A panel on hunger solutions
            “Texas leads in many things, but hunger in children should not be one of them” said Johnson.  Currently Texas is one of the top 5 states in childhood food insecurity and hunger in children means more than poor nutrition.  There are many established links between hunger and poor academic performance, behavior issues, and absenteeism.   “Simply put, hungry kids can’t learn,” said Bill Ludwig, Regional Administrator for the United States Department of Agriculture.  Almost 100% of Texas schools offer free breakfast to eligible students, but only half of those students actually get the meal.  Many students miss out because school buses run late or they fear the social stigma attached to eating the free meal.  Ludwig advocated for the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program, a model that allows to students to eat breakfast in the first 15 minutes of their day in the classroom.  "Once we started breakfast in the classroom teachers stopped constantly hearing the phrase "when's lunch" noted Dora Rivas, food services director for Dallas ISD, “and BIC has cut down on behavior issues and nurse visits.”
Melissa Roy,SOS Director of
State Partnerships and Jeremy
Everett, Director of THI
            The summit also discussed hunger in adults.  Currently only 50% of eligible Texas residents receive SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits, a well funded program. "Hunger is not a resource issue. We just need a model to get the resources to those who need it," said Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative,  “We have hunger for 3 reasons - lack of infrastructure, lack of collaboration, and lack of accountability.”  SNAP has an economic stimulator effect as well.  Research shows that for every $1 of SNAP benefits spent, $1.87 in economic returns is generated. 
It is the hope of the participants and sponsors of the hunger summit to begin more intentional collaboration between private and public programs and individuals and organizations.  Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, surveying the room of hunger advocates, commented "We have too many well meaning people in our town to let hunger like this happen.”
A list of highlights from the hunger summit can be found on our twitter feed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Status of Elderly and Childhood Hunger Presentation

            The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) Lecture Series is a way to engage the local community, Baylor students, and Baylor faculty and staff in hunger related issues.  “Raising awareness” is a large component of combatting food insecurity and the lecture series provides a forum for experts in the field to convey their knowledge, expertise, and perspective to an interested and concerned audience.
            We recently hosted Celia Cole, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, to present and lead discussion on “The Status of Elderly and Childhood Hunger in Texas.”  Cole is a leading advocate for hunger in Texas and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the issue.  In addition to her current policy work at CPPP she worked as a Policy Specialist for the Texas Department of Human Services and as a Health and Human Services Policy Analyst for a private consulting firm in Washington, D.C.  “Education is a large part of our work,” said Cole, “one of the biggest barriers we face in combatting hunger and poverty is a lack of knowledge about the history of the problem and what is currently being done about it.”  Among the wealth of insight provided, the presentation included some helpful “hard facts” about hunger in Texas:
  • Only 50% of eligible Texas individuals get SNAP (formerly called food stamps) benefits.
  • Hunger costs Texas $9 billion annually.
  •  Last year SNAP benefits generated $9.1 billion economic benefits in Texas.
  • The current Federal measure for poverty is the same measure of poverty used since the 1960’s.  It does not take into account the cost of childcare, housing, and medical care.
  • Waco residents need to make 166% income about the poverty measure to make basic ends meet. 
“Hearing the history of the food assistance programs helped make sense of the current trends and statistics in food insecurity” said Baylor School of Social Work lecturer Becky Scott, “and it gave fresh perspective on the ramifications of the problem.”
            The THI lecture series is a reoccurring event.  The next scheduled speaker will be Erin Brackney, manager of research and learning for the OneStar Foundation, who will speak “Mapping Resources and Needs in Texas.”
            Other facts, statistics, and insights from Cole’s presentation can be found on our Twitter feed.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Status of Elderly and Childhood Hunger - THI Lecture Series

           On Thursday, November 3rd at 12:30pm, Celia Cole, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), will be leading a discussion on the “Status of Elderly and Childhood Hunger in Texas” at the Baylor School of Social Work.  The discussion will feature an informative lecture and time for Q&A.  The event starts at 12:30pm.  Attendees may bring a “brown bag” lunch.
Ceila Cole is a leading expert on food policy in Texas. In addition to her current policy work at CPPP she worked as a Policy Specialist for the Texas Department of Human Services and as a Health and Human Services Policy Analyst for a private consulting firm in Washington, D.C.  CPPP is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the poor in Texas by working to improve economic and social conditions through public policy work, research, and education.