Dr. Deland Myers On How Community-Focused Solutions Are Essential to Improve Food Security

Dr. Deland Myers is taking on a big task: trying to solve hunger in Texas.

Luckily, he’s not alone. Thanks to the way Prairie View’s Agriculture Department is structured, he’s able to work with researchers in areas ranging from soil science to sociology to develop a holistic approach to keeping people fed.

He explained how different fields see the damaging effects of food insecurity, saying “You can talk to someone in education and they’ll tell you that this is why kids are having trouble focusing in class because they’re hungry. In nursing, it shows up in patients with health issues related to not getting enough food or enough of the right kinds of food. It’s especially an issue after natural disasters, and socio-economically vulnerable people are the ones who suffer the most.”

In a state that consistently ranks in the top 10 for food insecurity, residents of hurricane-weary Harris county are extremely familiar with the devastation that natural disasters can cause, and how slow recovery efforts can be.

Dr. Myers wants to change that, starting from the ground up.

“One of the great things about Prairie View is that you have a chance to connect the work that people are doing, from soil science to engineering, figuring out how to get nutritious food distributed effectively,” he explained.

Not only does his work connect many areas of the college, but it’s also helping to expand it. After being awarded a 5.3 million dollar grant from the Texas A&M Chancellor’s Research Initiative in 2018, Dr. Myers founded the Integrated Food Security Research Center (IFSRC).

This innovative new center seeks to combine rigorous research and state-of-the-art facilities with extensive outreach efforts.

“Looking at the history of the university, as a land grant institution, there’s a focus on wanting to help farmers and farm workers, many of whom are food insecure,” he said, “The solution has to focus on going into these communities and finding solutions that work for the people in them. Efforts with urban agriculture, food system improvement, and nutritional education can only go so far. We need to find solutions that break down the systemic barriers people face.”

With such a strong community of support here at Prairie View A&M University, even a task as daunting as ending hunger is possible, and Dr. Myers is hard at work proving it.

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