Hunger programs partner to feed Waco’s children

March 7, 2014
By Daniel Wallace / Special to the Baptist Standard
Hunger programs partner to feed Waco’s
WACO—The largest food sponsor in Texas is partnering with the Texas Hunger Initiative, based
out of Baylor University’s School of Social Work, to provide free meals to children and
teenagers in Waco.
Jeremy Everett is director of the Texas
Hunger Initiative, at Baylor's School of
Social Work.Waco became the beneficiary of
17 after-school meal sites recently, thanks
to coordination between City Square’s Food
on the Move program and the Texas Hunger
Initiative, launched by the Baylor University
School of Social Work in cooperation with
the Texas Baptist Christian Life
Commission. One site is located at Good Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church.
Food on the Move combats the challenges of childhood hunger by providing free meals to
eligible children in either its summer meals program or after-school meals program. Last
summer, Food on the Move served more than 1 million meals to nearly 20,000 children and
youth in low-income neighborhoods in Dallas, Houston and Austin.
Food on the Move provides after-school meals to children who qualify for the school district’s
free- or reduced-lunch programs. The after-school meals program serves an average of 3,300
meals per day to children in Dallas, Austin and now Waco, where 89 percent of students in the
Waco school district qualify for free or reduced lunches.
Summer feeding plans
Although plans have not yet been finalized for the summer meals program in Waco, Food on the
Move seeks to provide after-school and summer feeding locations in the city said Renee
Caldwell, senior manager at City Square.
“We are positioned to stay here in Waco year-round,” she said.
Twelve Oaks Catering in Dallas prepares and transports the after-school meals to the Waco
locations. Meals typically include a sandwich or a wrap and cold fruit.
“They prepare (the meals) every day,” Caldwell said. “We don’t get it from Timbuktu and get it
shipped in. They fulfill lots in the Dallas area. We really want Waco to have quality meals.”
For several years, City Square remained in contact with the Texas Hunger Initiative about the
partnership, but the Waco-based organization was not in a position to partner until 2014,
Caldwell said.
Last summer, Food on the Move
served more than 1 million meals
to nearly 20,000 children and
youth in low-income
neighborhoods in Dallas, Houston
and Austin.In 2013, The Texas
Hunger Initiative received a twoyear, $2 million grant from the
Walmart Foundation to fund
research on summer child nutrition
programs. The grant also allowed
the organization to hire 12 child
nutrition outreach specialists, who
work to help promote childhood
hunger programs, in its regional offices across the state.
Kelsey Scherer, the Waco-based child nutrition outreach specialist, worked closely with the grant
and said it was also meant to increase collaboration with other like-minded nonprofit
organizations like City Square.
City Square “was really the best option we saw to us in terms of getting after school meals to
children right away, beginning this winter,” Scherer said.
The grant allows the Texas Hunger Initiative to be creative in the combat against childhood
hunger in the state, she explained.
Increased opportunities
“That funding doesn’t pay for food,” Scherer said. “It doesn’t actually set up the program, but it
has allowed us some increased opportunities to create and try some different solutions, some
compelling options we haven’t done in the past.”
Waco has few food sponsors, at least compared to the 107 sponsors in Dallas that provide similar
services as City Square, Caldwell said.
Food on the Move tries to find different outreach partners, like the Texas Hunger Initiative, each
year. Since the two organizations have the same goal—to feed underprivileged children—it has
been a successful partnership already, Caldwell noted.
Scherer “can’t do it all by herself, and we can’t do it all by ourselves,” she said. “Things have
been so successful in Waco these past few months, so they would have buy-in and be able to do a
lot of the legwork and have the community be engaged. We do the food, yes, but there are so
many other pieces that have to be formed.”