My New Job

Posted on: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A couple weeks ago I mentioned I had some really exciting news regarding a research assistant position I was awarded. Well, I thought I'd tell you a little more about that, now that things are official! I've begun working with the Texas Hunger Initiative, as well as No Kid Hungry/Share Our Strength. THI received a large grant from Walmart that allowed for them to bring on two, paid research assistants. I will be working in different areas, primarily in research and outreach for their summer and after-school meal programs for kiddos (CACFP and SFSP). I'm spending my 20 hours this first week just reading up on anything and everything to do with the program(s), and learning the many acronyms that come along with it! :)

A bit about THI (via the grant proposal):
The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) believes that Texas has enough food to feed everyone in the state.  However, the systems that make healthy food accessible to all need to be better organized.  There are numerous strong anti-hunger non-profit organizations in the State of Texas.  Our state agencies work hard to do everything within lawful parameters to implement federal nutrition programs, but their entrenched bureaucracies often struggle with effectiveness and efficiency.

THI is a statewide capacity-building project within the Baylor University School of Social Work that works with federal, state and local governments as well as hunger stakeholders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas.

THI implements strategies to alleviate food insecurity through policy, education and community organizing.  It convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-profits, faith communities and business leaders to use existing resources and develop and implement plans to increase Texas families' access to healthy foods. 
From its inception in 2009, THI's structure has been rooted in the idea that all public and private entities can cooperate, communicate and act together once all parties have clearly defined their roles.  To get to this point, it often takes a skilled intermediary to build trust between interested participants and walk all parties through the entire process.

Interesting stuff, huh? They work at the local, state and federal level, and with a number of departments, organizations, and legislators. Currently, about 4.6 million Texans are food insecure (that is, they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food) and Texas ranks third overall in food insecurity. There is enough food to feed everyone in the state of Texas, there is also, unfortunately, a disconnect in the systems and organization of getting the food to the people who need it, so THI is working to correct this disconnect and break these barriers. And not only are they focused on Texas, but they also have a goal of producing research findings that are generalizable to the rest of the nation, and ultimately coming up with business and community proposals that can be implemented to make the rest of the nation food secure.

I'm really excited, because this is the type of social work I'm hoping to get into- policy, community organizing, making things better for the individual at a macro level... For more information follow the links!

- From the desk of Mrs. M


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