PVAMU is Taking the Lead on Tackling Food Insecurity

Prairie View A&M University is about to embark on something monumental, as it seeks to find a cure for the real-world problem of food insecurity. Food Insecurity is the lack of access to healthy and nutritious food, especially in underserved communities. PVAMU’s Endowed Professor of Food Systems, Dr. Deland J. Myers Sr. has been awarded a 5.3 million dollar grant from the Texas A&M Chancellors Research Initiative to found the Integrated Food Security Research Center (IFSRC) to establish a center with a focused research, academic, and outreach effort. The goal is to study the causes of food insecurity, its impacts, and find ways to alleviate the problem in communities.

Solving food insecurity is a real-life challenge since the expected global population is expected to exceed nine billion people by the year 2050. It’s a challenge, but Dr. Myers said PVAMU is poised and ready to face, and combat. “About 11 percent of the United States, [one of] the richest nation on the planet, are food insecure. In Texas, it’s more than 14 percent,” said Myers. The problem of food insecurity is an issue closer to home for many Texans, especially in underserved communities. A 2015 study indicates three Texas counties rank high in the number of food insecure persons in the United States including Harris County (4th), Dallas County (6th) and Tarrant County (10th). A further examination of the food insecurity data from the USDA showed that demographically, African Americans (22.5%) followed by Hispanics (18%) had the highest levels of food insecurity in the U.S.

The grant will be used to found the Integrated Food Security Research Center (IFSRC) under the direction of Dr. Myers. Myers said by establishing this center; we will focus on research, academic, and outreach efforts to study the causes of food insecurity, the impacts of this issue, and find ways to alleviate food insecurity in communities.  The grant will allow the university to upgrade research facilities and hire researchers and staff for the new center. Myers also plans to make critical collaborations with other universities, federal agencies, and any groups that have a shared mission to further the efforts of the IFSRC.

College of Agriculture & Human Sciences Dean and Director of Land Grants Programs, Dr. Gerard D’Souza has verbalized intentions to make this university the leading authority in solving food insecurity, and Dr. Myers is leading the way. “In about three years, I would like to introduce Dr. Myers as the person who came up with a solution to food insecurity. Three years from now, we’ve got to be able to go out into our communities and surrounding counties and solve some of these problems we face,” said D’Souza. This, in turn, will establish PVAMU as the leading authority on this issue not only in Texas but globally.

Family and Community Health Program Leader Dr. Jacquelyn White put the Cooperative Extension Program in the spotlight during a recent appearance on a local TV talk show. Dr. White was a guest on KPRC Channel 2’s Houston Newsmakers hosted by Khambrel Marshall. She spoke about the topic of Food Insecurity and provided valuable information about the importance of access to healthy foods as well as tips on how to get the most out of your trip to the grocery store.  These topics are in line with Dean Gerard D’Souza’s blueprint to make Prairie View A&M University a leader in tackling this global problem.

See the recent interview on KPRC

 

This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 1890 Extension Formula Program projects under Section 1444 and Section 1445.

By Taelor Smith