Money keeps arriving to fight hunger in Central Texas and beyond.
The Walmart Foundation announced Thursday it will give $2.6 million to Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative. The money will be spent “to increase access to healthy food through learning labs, direct outreach, research and policy engagement,” according to a Walmart Foundation press release.
Earlier this week, the university announced it would receive a three-year, $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. It is earmarked to deliver nutritious meals through the mail to children in rural areas during the summer, when free and reduced-price meals are not available during the school day.
The food delivery pilot study could lead to a program supplementing the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which serves summertime meals to children at central locations that may be especially difficult to access for children in rural areas, hunger initiative officials said.
The Walmart Foundation money will address the initiative’s work more broadly.
“This grant from the Walmart Foundation will help us work to end food insecurity in our communities,” Jeremy Everett, Texas Hunger Initiative founder and executive director, wrote in the Walmart press release. “Our goal with this grant is to identify solutions that can be scaled and replicated to combat hunger in Texas and beyond.”
Walmart “is in a unique position to create effective and sustainable solutions to help combat food insecurity in the communities we serve,” Walmart Vice President of Philanthropy Julie Gehrki wrote in the press release.
Walmart also announced a $1.3 million grant to support Brighter Bites, a Houston-based nonprofit that tries to put fresh fruits and vegetables in the hands of low-income families, while also offering nutrition education classes.
The grant will expand Brighter Bites in Houston, Dallas and Austin.
The Walmart Foundation since 2012 has awarded the Texas Hunger Initiative $9.8 million in grants, money used to open more Hunger Free Community Coalitions across the state, encourage child nutrition programs and conduct university-based research into fighting hunger, according to a Baylor press release.
More than 4.3 million people in Texas are regarded as “food insecure,” meaning they are not certain about where their next meal is coming from, and the hunger initiative attempts to attack the problem the local, state and federal level, according to the press release.
“Poverty and food insecurity are challenges that go beyond the capabilities of any one agency or private firm, and we are grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s continued support in our efforts to end food insecurity,” Everett wrote in the Baylor press release. “We play a vital role in addressing these issues by helping to create partnerships between public programs and private organizations, but our work is only possible through the support of our corporate and foundation partners.”
The hunger initiative is headquartered locally in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor and has satellite offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen and San Angelo, according to the press release.