Baylor University today announced a gift to support the University’s efforts in coordinating, administrating and leading accessibility efforts for children experiencing food insecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $75,000 gift from the H-E-B Tournament of Champions Charitable Trust will provide staffing support for the Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, helping to fund the Emergency Meals-to-You effort over the next six months.
The Emergency Meals-to-Yo effort was launched on March 17, 2020, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Baylor Collaborative, McLane Global and PepsiCo announced the partnership as a plan to deliver meals to children in rural areas affected by COVID-19-related school closures.
The program is an expansion of a pilot the Baylor Collaborative conducted in 2019 called Meals-to-You. On May 5, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a major expansion of the program, which will serve nearly 5 million meals per week to rural children impacted by school closures. Emergency Meals-to-You has 38 states and Puerto Rico in its system and already has shipped meals to the homes of children in 30 states.
“The support of our corporate partners is crucial as we work to meet the needs of Texas children who have been left with food insecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Baylor Collaborative founder and executive director Jeremy Everett. “We are grateful for H-E-B’s continued support of our work and their commitment to Texas families. This gift will provide vital resources to ensure that we are efficient and effective in administrating the Emergency Meals-to-You food program.”
The recent gift from H-E-B will directly support the Baylor Collaborative’s work in Texas to increase food access for families by providing resources for staff with the Baylor Collaborative’s Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) as they implement the Emergency Meals-to-You (eMTY) program in Texas, assist rural school districts and coordinate with appropriate state agencies. The funding also will support THI staff as they work with rural Texas school districts to implement best-practice curbside and mobile meals in response to COVID-19 school closures.
The eMTY program provides crucial nutrition to children who may otherwise be unable to access federal nutrition programs. eMTY was created as a response for rural communities where traditional summer meal programs, such as summer lunch programs that saw parents bringing students by their schools to access free lunches, were unreachable by students living in rural areas.
School districts apply to participate in eMTY, then students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, or attend a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) participating school, opt-in to receive one box every two weeks for the time period of their school closure. Household members, ages 1-18, of participating students also are eligible to participate. Each box is delivered via UPS (or USPS for P.O. boxes) and contains components for 20 meals: 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches/suppers. The Baylor Collaborative serves as the technical assistance provider and administrative support for eMTY by consulting with federal and state agencies and school districts to manage enrollment and address verification, and match interested school districts with vendors.
Baylor Collaborative staff support school food authorities as they operate as essential services despite shelter-in-place orders throughout the country. The Baylor Collaborative also supports districts as they continue operating weekend backpack programs in collaboration with community volunteers and connects them with the Hunger Free Community Coalition network. By funding THI staff to respond to the COVID-19 crisis through the announced gift, the Baylor Collaborative can help ensure that Texas districts operate at optimal capacity and participate in the meal programs to serve students in need. Specifically, the Baylor Collaborative’s THI staff will support about 40 school districts across Texas, serving 175,000 kids, resulting in approximately 10 million meals served in the coming months.
“We are truly grateful for H-E-B’s support of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and their work to help our food-insecure families,” said Baylor Vice President for Advancement David Rosselli. “For many of our Texas families, the COVID-19 pandemic’s closure of schools has cut off access to nutritious food and resulted in significant stress and financial insecurity as families are left without a dependable source of food for their children. We are grateful for community partners who are helping us bridge the gap for these children and families through the Emergency Meals-to-You program, and we are grateful for the many other corporate and private donors who are helping with these efforts.”
The H-E-B Tournament of Champions was established in 1986 to raise support for Texas organizations that focus on the needs of children and educational initiatives. In its 34 years, the H-E-B Tournament of Champions Charitable Trust has raised more than $118 million in funds to support these initiatives, including previous support for the Baylor Collaborative.
For more information on the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty’s efforts, please visit baylor.edu/hungerandpoverty.