The Texas Hunger Initiative: Creating a Strategic PlanJune 29, 2011
Written byJeremy K. Everett
One of the many documents you’ll find in the Hunger Free Communities Network’s online resource library is a strategic summary put together by the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI). We think it’s a great example of how a state-wide coalition can develop the framework for an infrastructure that has real potential to make the state hunger free. In the blog post below, Jeremy Everett, the Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative discusses some of the key elements of THI’s approach.
As a capacity-building collaborative project, the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) inherently establishes multi-disciplinary or cross-sector collaborations to improve outreach, community organizing, advocacy, and service coordination in local communities to more effectively service children at risk of hunger. THI states, in its core values, that faith-based communities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies must partner together and with society in order to alleviate poverty and hunger. We help foster partnerships within communities to raise awareness about hunger and nutrition, advocate for policy change, and help create effective service delivery.
THI relies on the creation of Food Planning Associations (FPAs) which work on the local level in communities to assess structure and procedures of food delivery systems, identify resources and gaps, make decisions for change, and implement their action plans in order to provide healthy and nutritious food to an increased number of people. FPAs are composed of government and civic leaders, food security stakeholders, and volunteers from the community.
The Texas Food Bank Network has partnered with THI to establish a grassroots outreach effort to increase participation in public and private resources available to the regions which includes a soon to be released Blueprint to End Hunger. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) have joined with THI to coordinate Federal Nutrition Service programs with the State Operations Team (SOT). THI proposes that the SOT create an efficient system of jurisdiction and accountability for food delivery in the state. The SOT collaboratively looks for ways to work together to address gaps in service, reduce duplication, and conduct creative outreach efforts with programs across state agency boundaries that are working with the same families on the local level.
THI has created a Food Policy Roundtable (FPR) with our policy partners which are a collaborative gathering of THI’s 35 policy partners and over 50 interested organizations, who think strategically about policy and governmental procedures, discuss needed changes in policy, and advocate for legislative change. As they are formed, the local Food Planning Associations are connected to the statewide Food Policy Roundtable to ensure that the FPR’s advocacy matches the reality of individual communities’ needs.
Through our partnerships and research, we will develop a best practice model for community assessments, outreach, community organizing, advocacy, and service coordination in local communities. As part of Baylor University, THI has at its disposal the expertise of professionals and faculty across many different disciplines to address this challenge from a variety of perspectives. We will be using the resources of our academic community in partnership with our local communities to pilot and evaluate our model. We will utilize the research of faculty members from the School of Social Work to share our findings and our recommendations through published journal articles. Working together, we truly believe that we can make Texas food secure by 2015.