Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative Receives $2.6 Million Grant from Walmart Foundation

September 26, 2019
THI Walmart Foundation Grant

Baylor University's Texas Hunger Initiative has received a $2.6 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to continue its work to end hunger in Texas, including continuing child nutrition program outreach.

Grant continues support for Child Nutrition Outreach

WACO, Texas (Sept. 26, 2019) – The Walmart Foundation announced today that Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) has received a $2.6 million grant to continue its work to end hunger in Texas. Since 2012, the Walmart Foundation has awarded THI $9.8 million in grant funding to support THI’s efforts to increase access to healthy food through learning labs, direct outreach, research and policy engagement.

Building upon the previous funding from the Walmart Foundation, THI will continue developing its network of Hunger Free Community Coalitions across the state, continue child nutrition program outreach and conduct university-based research to evaluate and improve upon its work. The new funding will allow THI to expand on its statewide role in supporting communities to assess local hunger, evaluate barriers to food security and find long-term, community-driven solutions to hunger and poverty.

More than 4.3 million individuals in Texas are food insecure, and the state has one of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation. THI’s innovative model addresses the hunger problem at all levels — local, state and federal — by organizing systems and helping people work together to create more efficient and effective programs and policies that reduce hunger in Texas.

“Poverty and food insecurity are challenges that go beyond the capabilities of any one agency or private firm, and we are grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s continued support in our efforts to end food insecurity,” said Jeremy Everett, founder and executive director of THI. “We play a vital role in addressing these issues by helping to create partnerships between public programs and private organizations, but our work is only possible through the support of our corporate and foundation partners. This grant will enable us to strengthen existing relationships and deepen our work within communities across the state.”

Partnership model

The THI model of partnership creation and community building has proven successful. THI operates seven field offices, known as Learning Laboratories, across Texas that build and support strong and equitable food systems for under-resourced populations. At each Learning Lab, THI works with distinct populations and addresses unique facets of hunger and poverty.

THI also increases food access by promoting the efficacy of federal child nutrition programs as ways to ensure that low-income children receive healthy meals. With the funding from the Walmart Foundation, THI will be able to implement and expand its nationally recognized Excellence in Summer Meals Campaign (ESMC) to identify and honor exemplary summer meal sponsors.

Along with its efforts to coordinate and support child nutrition programs, THI will strengthen and further develop Hunger Free Community Coalitions (HFCC) across the state. By bringing together organizations and individuals acting together to end hunger in their communities, these coalitions assess the structure and procedures of local food delivery systems, identify resources and gaps and collaboratively implement action plans to ensure that more people have access to healthy food.

“We are grateful for this continued funding from the Walmart Foundation,” Everett said. “It is vital for us to understand the interests and needs of local communities so that we can identify and disseminate best practices and improve the quality of service delivery.”

The grant provides momentum for Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, an ambitious, $1.1 billion comprehensive philanthropic campaign designed to undergird Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan. The plan provides direction for the future strategic growth of the University, setting Baylor on a path to Research 1/Tier 1 recognition as a leading Christian research university. Through Illuminate, the University will focus on the following five key areas of growth, or initiatives, to help build the University’s capacity for compelling scholarship and research in health; data sciences; materials science; human flourishing, leadership and ethics; and Baylor in Latin America.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have a long history in the fight to eliminate food insecurity. In 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation made their first public commitment to fight hunger – more than $2 billion in grants and in-kind food donations to organizations on the front lines of fighting food insecurity. In 2015, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed to help provide 4 billion meals to people in need, and nutrition education to 4 million people by 2020. Funding is in place to reach both commitments ahead of schedule. Globally, Walmart donated a total 720 million pounds of food in FY2019 and nearly 57 million pounds of food to Texas residents.

“As the nation’s largest grocer, Walmart is in a unique position to create effective and sustainable solutions to help combat food insecurity in the communities we serve,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy at Walmart. “By leveraging the strengths of our business and engaging with the right partners on the ground through philanthropic investments, we’re supporting innovative programs that both address immediate needs locally and strengthen the broader meal system.”


The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University is a capacity-building and collaborative project, which develops and implements strategies to end hunger through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. THI works 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. THI’s work is supported by the Walmart Foundation, No Kid Hungry, and PepsiCo’s Food for Good. Along with its office located within the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor, THI has offices located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen and San Angelo. For more information, visit


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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ABOUT PHILANTHROPY AT WALMART represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where our business has unique strengths, we work to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employing more than 2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably-grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit