Shout out to ADI Client Baylor University on being awarded $7.2 Million from the USDA for the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. Receiving federal funding for the fifth year in a row, the program will help provide food to children in rural and tribal areas while school is out of session.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Craig Nash, Craig_Nash@baylor.edu, (254)498-7602
WACO, TX – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty $7.2M to operate its innovative Meals-to-You program for a fifth summer. The program began in 2019 to reach children in rural, frontier, and tribal regions who are often underserved in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Children participating in the Meals-to-You program receive shelf-stable meals delivered directly to their home addresses throughout the summer while school is out of session.
According to Jeremy Everett, the Baylor Collaborative’s Executive Director, Meals-to-You has revolutionized how the U.S. operates summer child nutrition programs. “Before 2019, the only summer option for children to receive free, publicly funded meals was through the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) requiring children to eat on site at a congregate setting,” he said. He added, “But while SFSP is an excellent tool that has proven extremely effective at strengthening food security, it has limitations in regions without a high concentration of children in one place.”
Program guidelines for SFSP have historically included a congregate requirement, meaning meals are provided to children who eat at a single, centralized location such as a summer camp or school cafeteria. Unfortunately, these aren’t always available to children in more remote areas.
Meals-to-You began in 2019, serving twenty East and West Texas counties, to test whether meal delivery could be a successful alternative in areas with limited access to SFSP. In March 2020, as schools shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baylor Collaborative was asked to rapidly scale up the program to include 43 states and Puerto Rico in what was known as “Emergency Meals-to-You.”
Throughout each version of the program, the Baylor Collaborative has worked with vendors such as McLane Global, Chartwells, and PepsiCo to assemble boxes of meals that follow USDA nutrition guidelines for child meal programs.
An evaluation of Meals-to-You by the Urban Institute found the program to be successful in strengthening food security among participants.
The program’s success and other lessons learned during the pandemic have expanded the options for children to receive healthy meals during the summer months. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, signed into law late last year, made non-congregate and summer meal delivery a permanent option for children beginning this summer. It also allows for summer EBT options beginning next summer.
Everett praises these developments. “We have known for a long time the limitations of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to childhood food security work. We are incredibly excited about the new options available next year and are humbled to have been a small part of changing the landscape of these programs.”
The 2023 iteration of Meals-to-You will serve eligible children in select communities in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Alaska.