Walmart Foundation Grant Establishes Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration between Baylor's Texas Hunger Initiative and Business School

August 30, 2013

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

Two-year, $2 million grant funds research on summer child nutrition programs and development of efficient national business model

WACO, Texas (Aug. 26, 2013) - As students across the nation head back to school, more than a third of the three million Texas school children who qualify for federal free and reduced-price lunches at school will begin the day without a school breakfast. During the summer break, even fewer had access to federal Summer Meals Programs.

But now a team of multidisciplinary researchers with Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) and Hankamer School of Business - funded by a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation - are on track to better understand the vast landscape of summer and afterschool federal child nutrition programs and what can be done to improve them, such as through the development of a fiscally sustainable year-round business model that can be replicated throughout the nation.

"The Walmart Foundation partnership is allowing us to do two critical things at once: increase the accessibility of Summer Meals for the children who need them today; and launch an innovative, interdisciplinary study in order to maximize the efficiency of Summer Meals programs across the state for the future," said Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative. "The findings from this study will help us move toward the ultimate goal of ending childhood hunger in Texas and will also provide a strategic plan for other states to follow suit."

The Texas Hunger Initiative - based in the Baylor School of Social Work - is a collaborative, capacity-building project that seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through education, research, policy, community organizing and community development. The latest grant awarded to THI and Baylor is part of Walmart's and the Walmart Foundation's $2 billion commitment through 2015 to fight hunger in America, and Walmart's 2011 initiative to provide customers with healthier and more affordable food choices.

"At Walmart, we recognize that many children rely on the meals provided at school to sustain an adequate nutrition level, and may go without after the school day ends and during summer vacation. That's why we're committed to supporting organizations like Baylor's Texas Hunger Initiative that work to ensure children have access to meals all year long," said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. "Through Walmart's own efforts and by working with dedicated nonprofit partners to make healthy foods more accessible and affordable, we strive to help families live better, healthier lives."

The goals of the two-year research project include:
• increasing the average daily participation (ADP) rates for summer and/or afterschool child nutrition programs;
• increasing the number of participating sites of these programs to meet the needs of hungry children;
• increasing effective food planning capacity by creating a comprehensive research report on the state of Texas' summer and afterschool child nutrition programs;
• increasing the fiscal sustainability of summer and afterschool child nutrition programs for providers and their capacity to serve additional children by developing a multi-dimensional business model that can be replicated nationwide and in a variety of settings; and
• addressing the national issue of childhood hunger by partnering with the Walmart Foundation to share the actionable findings from this project.

THI researchers began initial research this summer by surveying 702 sponsor organizations that provided meals through Summer Meals Programs during summer 2012. Sponsors were asked about their plans to participate as a 2013 summer sponsor, the outreach and advertising methods they used and their perception of program successes and challenges.

Among the key THI findings:
• 95 percent of 2012 sponsors planned to serve as sponsors again in 2013.
• More than 40 percent of sponsors were interested in expanding their number of meal sites in 2013.
• Almost one-third of respondents felt that their overall outreach efforts were ineffective.
• More than 30 percent of respondents indicated that their summer feeding programs required additional funds to operate.
• The largest perceived barriers to the sponsors' program efforts were low participation and time-consuming paperwork.
• The largest perceived barrier to child participation was the lack of transportation to the meal sites.

"We surveyed more than 700 summer meals sponsors, finding that there are key differences in the barriers organizations experience," said Kathy J. Krey, Ph.D., director of research for The Texas Hunger Initiative. "While 80 percent of schools experienced low participation as a barrier in running their program, the top barrier cited by nonprofits was time consuming paperwork (81 percent). This informs the work of our research team and confirms that the concerns and needs aren't the same across the board. We need recommendations tailored to help sponsors run effective programs."

The survey report is available online at

The sponsor survey provided valuable insight as researchers in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business begin their work to develop a sustainable and replicable business model that could possibly stream the summer and afterschool federal child nutrition programs year-round. Seamlessly transitioning from afterschool meal and snack programs to summer meals programs could minimize overhead costs and provide year-round staff for implementation. The co-principal investigators leading this research effort are Jeff Tanner Jr., Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, and Charles S. Madden, Ph.D., professor and holder of The Ben H. Williams Professorship in Marketing. Madden also directs Baylor's Center for Non-Profit Leadership and Service.

"This project is exactly the type of opportunity you hope for when conducting interdisciplinary research because we're able to combine knowledge that results in powerful learning that can then be used to yield real change in people's lives," Tanner said. "It's not about us telling them how to do something; rather, it's bringing a particular lens to understanding a problem that then shapes the outcomes while at the same time, enabling us to learn more deeply about our own processes. That's what you hope for in interdisciplinary research - real innovation that flows both ways."

The Walmart Foundation grant also provides for THI to place 12 Child Nutrition Outreach Specialists in Texas Hunger Initiative offices in:
• Amarillo (Potter County)
• Austin (Travis County)
• Dallas (Dallas County)
• El Paso (El Paso County)
• Fort Worth (Tarrant County)
• Houston (Harris County)
• Lubbock (Lubbock County)
• McAllen (Hidalgo County)
• San Angelo (Tom Green County)
• San Antonio (Bexar County)
• Tyler (Smith County)
• Waco (McLennan County)

These regional Child Nutrition Outreach Specialists, working in partnership with the No Kid Hungry (Share Our Strength) campaign manager at THI who oversees all child nutrition programs, have been developing relationships and networks to increase participation in summer and/or afterschool child nutrition programs, as well as to increase the number of sites for these programs.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building and collaborative project, developed in the Baylor University School of Social Work, which seeks to develop and implement strategies to end hunger through education, research, policy, community organizing and community development. THI seeks to make the state food secure by ensuring that every individual has access to three healthy meals a day, seven days a week. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with non-profits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas. Along with its Central Office located within the Baylor University School of Social Work, THI has 12 regional offices located in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco.


The Baylor University School of Social Work is home to one of the leading graduate social work programs in the nation with a research agenda focused on the integration of faith and practice. Upholding its mission of preparing social workers in a Christian context for worldwide service and leadership, the School offers a baccalaureate degree (BSW), a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, a PhD degree, and three joint-degree options (MSW/Master of Business Administration, MSW/Master of Divinity and MSW/Master of Theological Studies) through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Visit to learn more.


Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit and follow on Twitter at


Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Career Opportunity and Women's Economic Empowerment. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States with a $2 billion commitment through 2015. Walmart has donated more than 1 billion meals to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart's giving, visit