I founded the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University almost 10 years ago. My work has taken me from colonias in South Texas to the United States Capitol. At each stop, I’ve seen the effects of hunger and poverty, but I’ve also met people dedicated to bringing them to an end.
Recently, my work took me to Guatemala. On that trip, while sitting in a mud hut holding a baby and listening to a mother weep with gratitude for a small bag of food, I gained a new lens through which to see hunger.
Right now, we are living in a moment when four different famines impact more than 20 million lives due to hunger and malnutrition. Though this is devastating, there isgood news. Over the past 25 years, the United States has led the world in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, or those living on less than $1.25 a day. Thanks to American leadership, we have cut the number of those living in extreme poverty and with hunger by 50 percent!
Today we lead the world in global health and development to provide clean water, food and medications for those living with HIV/AIDS. We also help provide bed nets and vaccines for families to combat malaria. This saves the lives of millions of children. By doing all of these things, we have halved the number of child deaths worldwide since 1990. And we have done it through spending less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget.
Thanks to critical champions in Congress, our country has maintained leadership in global health. Right now, Congress is considering increasing global nutrition funding by the highest level seen in a decade. In 2017 alone, the U.S. Agency for International Development reached 28 million children with nutrition programs. This means that during a time of famine for four nations, we nonetheless have the ability to save the lives of millions with this increased funding.
Poverty, hunger and malnutrition can be crushing and are creating crises not just for our neighbors south of our border but in countries around the world. The Texas Hunger Initiative has wonderful partners in Waco and across the state helping us end hunger here, and we encourage you to also partner with organizations like World Hunger Relief, here in Waco, and Hope Through Healing Hands that work internationally. As Christians, we are called to help not just our neighbors in the local community but neighbors in our global community as well. The challenge is daunting, but this is a crisis we can end.
Jeremy Everett is executive director of Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative and a Senior Fellow for World Hunger Relief Inc. He has worked as an organic farmer, testified before Congress and served on the National Commission on Hunger. THI’s Together at the Table Hunger & Poverty Summit will be held on the Baylor campus Nov. 7-9.