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.