The Walmart Foundation gave Baylor's Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) a $3 million grant to fight hunger statewide, the University announced Monday.

The money will allow THI to build coalitions to combat hunger in Texas, advocate for better children's nutrition and conduct research exploring solutions to hunger issues.

"The new funding will allow THI to go deeper in its current efforts as well as expand on projects working to find long-term, community-driven solutions to hunger and poverty," the University said in a statement.

Today, more than 4.5 million Texans are "food insecure" -- meaning they lack access to enough affordable, healthy food. In recent years, THI has tried to lower that number by partnering with Waco-based organizations that address child hunger. Last summer, local groups operated summer meal programs at 72 sites in Waco, serving more than 226,000 breakfasts and lunches to families in our area.

“There is so much great work happening in Texas communities, but without coordination, this work is pushing upstream,” said THI senior director Jeremy Everett. “We fill a unique role. We are getting people to work together – nonprofits and legislators and businesses and state agencies – and it’s untangling some complicated systems, allowing local organizations to maximize their work and getting existing resources to the people that need them.”

Everett said the new funding from the Walmart Foundation will only deepen the roots THI has in Central Texas.