Hunger Expert Discusses USDA Report on U.S. Household Food Insecurity

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released its report, “Household Food Insecurity in the United States in 2015.” The report shows a significant decline in the national food-insecurity rate, from 14 percent to 12.7 percent in one year, which means that millions more people throughout the nation now have access to food. Director of Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) Jeremy Everett was appointed by Congress in 2014 to serve for a year on the National Commission on Hunger, which was charged with providing policy recommendations to Congress regarding programs and funds to combat domestic hunger and food insecurity.

In this Q&A from Baylor University, Everett discusses the report, food insecurity in the nation and in Texas, and which campaigns and efforts are working to reduce the number of people going without meals.

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Major Accomplishments of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions 2016

The Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions was created in 2012. Learn about its measurable successes through collaboration and partnerships at this video link:

2016 Dallas Hunger Summit Challenge: Eliminate barriers that limit access to healthy food

September 20, 2016

DALLAS—Improved access to healthy food means eliminating both geographic and economic barriers, speakers told the fifth annual Dallas Hunger Summit.

That involves making fresh fruit and vegetables available in the neighborhoods major supermarkets don’t serve, and it requires economic development initiatives and job training, they emphasized.

The summit, convened by the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, explored policies and programs to fight food insecurity, particularly among children and senior adults. Sponsors included Dallas Baptist Association, Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas and the Texas Hunger Initiative, based at Baylor University.

Work in collaboration and cooperation

By working together, the private and public sectors, as well as the nonprofit and faith communities are making a difference in eliminating hunger in the United States, said Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative.

Everett praised the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions as “the best in the country” in terms of making a collective impact through collaboration and cooperation.

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2015 Dallas Hunger Summit Engages Community Leaders

What do a private trust banker, a political science professor, an award winning public radio journalist and a Baptist preacher have in common? They were speakers recently at the 4th annual Dallas Hunger Summit organized by the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Over 200 people attended the 2015 Dallas Hunger Summit held at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas during Hunger Awareness Month in September! Those who were there came from as far away as Lubbock and as nearby as next door. Why? They came to gain a greater understanding of the realities of food insecurity and the tangible opportunities to make a difference through partnership and collective impact.

Byron Sanders, Vice President for U. S. Trust, community advocate and all-round great guy, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Active on the boards of multiple community organizations and committed to equitable communities, Byron was instrumental in leading us to understand the issue at hand.

This year’s Hunger Summit theme was Roots of Hunger, Growth of Partnerships, and Harvest of Opportunities. In exploring the Roots, to more effectively solve the problem of hunger and food insecurity, we heard from Dr. Timothy Bray, Director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research at UT Dallas. He laid the groundwork for the day, sharing the facts and figures that shape the poverty landscape in and around Dallas.  See Dr. B ray’s analysis here: Exploring the Impact of Poverty in Dallas.

Courtney Collins, journalist for KERA Media and reporter for the news series “One Crisis Away”, followed with real-life stories of families struggling with “asset poverty” and under-resourced neighborhoods. Her accounts helped us better understand how hunger and food insecurity exist. Glance at Courtney’s presentation here: One Crisis Away Hunger Summit Presentation 2015

Examining Growth provided the opportunity for us to go into breakout sessions and learn about the work being done through the Coalition’s five Action Teams and how more collaborators can help build on that work. This conversation continued over lunch.

Finally, in reaping the Harvest, Rev. Eugene Keahey transfixed us with his testimony and case study about what’s possible in the fight against hunger through partnerships and collaboration. His passion and compassion for the severely neglected community of Sandbranch, Texas touched everyone in the room. Learn about Rev. Keahey’s work in the Sandbranch community here: Keahey – Welcome to SandBranch

And yet, there was still more!  Following the Hunger Summit, interested attendees toured the Encore Park Community Garden, operated by The Stewpot. They saw first-hand the kind of innovative initiatives that are occurring in Dallas to reduce hunger and food insecurity.

Feedback indicates that the 2015 Dallas Hunger Summit successfully increased awareness and enlisted potential new partners for the continuing work that is needed to have a significant impact on the problem. We hope to see YOU in the trenches!

This post was written and contributed to the blog by Wyonella Henderson-Greene, Coalition Coordinator.

Free Summer Meals in Dallas

In the past, when I thought about children facing hunger in the United States, I would think about how to solve it in terms of what schools can provide: free school lunches, free school breakfast, and free after school meals served to kids staying for homework help or other after school activities. I think this is a fairly common thought process; after all, school is where most children spend the majority of their day. If the schools have the resources, why not look to them to help feed kids who may not get enough food at home? And there is no disputing the fact that the work that schools do in this arena is incredibly important. The Food Research & Action Center has put forth studies that have proven that programs that offer free breakfast to all children improve student achievement and behavior. After all, who doesn’t have an easier time concentrating and just generally feel better on a full stomach?

But there’s a large portion of the year when kids aren’t in school. And while there are kids who relish the coming of the summer months, many children face that time with dread. Because for kids that rely on free meals provided at school, those months they spend away means little or no access to food. As Margaret Lopez, Director of Nutrition at Dallas ISD Food & Child Nutrition Services, says: “The family resources don’t increase just because school is out and kids are at home.”

That’s where the Summer Meals program comes in.  Also known as the Summer Food Service Program, it’s a federally-funded USDA program that here in Texas is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The TDA reimburses providers who serve healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas at no charge. This summer, the USDA estimates that more than 200 million free meals will be served to children all over the country. To qualify for a free summer meal, you only need to be under 18 years old. There’s no need to bring identification or prove a certain level of income—if you need a meal, you get that meal.

The Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions’ Child Hunger Action Team is made up of some great organizations that have made it their mission to make sure kids don’t spend the summer hungry. That includes organizations who are working together to make sure all families are aware of the Summer Meals program and the sites where kids can get free healthy meals. According to Jessica Galleshaw, Director of Health Impact at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and co-chair of the Child Hunger Action Team, a great summer meals site is “a site to which kids want to go. These sites offer healthy and delicious meals that are appealing to kids, but also integrates activities and games. For many kids there is a stigma attached to accepting help such as a free meal, so it is important for sites to overcome this by offering more than that. It is much easier for a kid to invite his friends to the park for lunch and game of basketball than to invite them to the park for a free meal. Great sites are engaging and use their face time with kids to keep them active and learning in the summer time.”

Dallas ISD alone is planning 225 summer meals locations with about half of those open to neighborhood children for meals. There are more than 70 other organizations in Dallas County that are sponsors, including other school districts. Service starts in early June and can end as late as mid-August, but the length of time, dates, and days of the week when sites are open vary by location. To find the nearest summer meals site to you, text FOODTX to 877-877, visit or call 211.

According to No Kid Hungry, families say that on average their grocery bills are about $300 higher every month that the kids are home from school. This is an expense that some families just can’t handle, and they shouldn’t have to. Join the Child Hunger Action Team in spreading the word about the Summer Meals program so we can make sure that all Dallas kids get the food they need. To learn more about how you or your organization can help, contact Loretta Landry at

This post was written and contributed to the blog by Charlotte Johnson, communications coordinator for the Dallas office of the Texas Hunger Initiative.