An exclusive newsletter for our Hunger Heroes
What’s INSIDE You’re Helping Us Mix It Up Food Banker Profile: Mary Agnew, Nutrition Education Manager Family Fights Hunger Together
You’re Helping Us Mix It Up Since March of this year, truckloads of fresh, excess produce, including carrots, watermelon, potatoes, onions and mangoes have been rolling into our warehouse from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. It’s excess because South Texas is home to an incredible number of farms and that area’s local Food Bank doesn’t have the capacity to sufficiently handle all the produce that local farmers can’t sell and are looking to donate. But all this produce isn’t just for our food bank and the folks we serve in Central Texas. It’s our job to receive these large loads of fruits and vegetables, break them down into more manageable quantities, and ultimately deliver mixed loads containing different varieties of produce to fellow food banks in Texas, some up to 260 miles away from our facility in Austin. This work of receiving, mixing and delivering excess produce from South Texas used to be outsourced to a third party, with Feeding Texas, the statewide food bank network, paying a fee for each load. Now, after having completed a successful pilot period in which we demonstrated our ability to do this work here at the Central Texas Food Bank, Feeding Texas decided to make us the permanent home of our
region’s produce mixing efforts. We showed that we can produce better results with a smaller budget. By taking on this responsibility, we are able to generate additional revenue for each load we receive and mix and each order we deliver. Moreover, we now have even greater access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rest of the network saves money on shipping and handling in addition to seeing their produce orders arriving earlier in the week, which is essential to improving the shelf life and quality of produce that ends up on the plates of those we all serve throughout Texas. It’s a win for the Central Texas Food Bank, our food bank partners, and most importantly, the individuals and families with whom we work.
ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY CARDS! This holiday season, let us mark one thing off your list with Central Texas Food Bank Holiday Cards! Let your family, friends and neighbors know you’ve made a donation on their behalf and spread the spirit of generosity to your loved ones this year.
Card features illustrated vegetable ornaments and There’s No Place Like Hope for the Holidays on front. To order, call Valarie Campbell at 512-684-2126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us online at centraltexasfoodbank.org/holidaycards Suggested donation: $3 per card.
Food Banker Profile Mary Agnew, Nutrition Education Manager
Nutrition education has been a part of the Food Bank’s programming for nearly twenty years. Mary and her team of four nutrition educators travel across our service territory to provide classes to adults, children and seniors. These courses don’t just focus on nutrition and maintaining a balanced diet; they also teach attendees about the importance of movement, shopping on a budget, food and knife safety and how to use ingredients that may be unusual or new. Q Hi Mary! How long have you worked at the Food Bank? 5 years. Q How often do you teach nutrition classes? I usually teach one to two classes per week and the four nutrition educators each teach at least four courses per week. Q What types of classes does your team teach? All the courses we teach are tailored to the age
group we’re working with. Each class teaches clients about nutrition and food groups using the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines, incorporates movement to focus on the importance of physical activity, and provides recipes and interactive demonstrations on how to prepare different healthy foods. Q What’s changed with the nutrition program since you started? We now have an online database of recipes that our team has tested and perfected. Clients can use this database as a resource for how to prepare meals with the food they’ve received from a distribution. It’s been a great tool for our clients who may be cooking with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables that they’ve never seen before! We also just wrapped up a pilot program in our adult classes that allowed us to make the recipe in class together and send participants home with the groceries so that they could recreate the meal for their family. This really encouraged
more folks to come to class, allowed parents to test out new ingredients at home risk free, and increased the engagement we had with our students. So many people sent us photos of the meals that they had prepared with the food! Q Your team is out there every day directly serving people who need help with food. What have you seen that inspires you and keeps you going? Every time I attend a mobile pantry to do a cooking demonstration, especially at some of our more rural sites, I’m so inspired by our clients. They’re out there just as early as I am to make sure they have food for their families, and are always so thankful that I’m there. They tell me how much they enjoy the samples and they’re engaged in learning about the food I’m demoing. Visit our online recipe database at centraltexasfoodbank.org/recipes.
Dear Friend, Students all over Central Texas are once again spending the majority of their days learning in classrooms and exploring with their friends on the playground. As they learn, play, and grow, kids of all ages will need the proper nourishment to stay healthy and focused on their everyday activities. The reality is, 1 in 5 children in Central Texas is at risk of hunger; that’s higher than the national average. The Central Texas Food Bank believes, and we know you do too, that this problem is unacceptable. Many students during the school year will receive free or reducedprice school meals, but that sometimes is still not enough for a family struggling to make ends meet. As our most generous supporters, you go above and beyond to provide nutritious meals to students after school through the Kids Cafe after school program and during the weekend through the BackPack program. Thanks to you, students can focus on their school work and parents don’t have to worry about their children running on empty. You are also supporting the Food Bank’s priority to distribute healthier options and provide nutrition programming to help families cook healthier meals. In this issue, you will see how the Food Bank is at the forefront of providing access to healthy meal options. Thank you for being with us in the fight against hunger.
Family Fights Hunger Together This summer, 13-year-old Lee and his parents, Chesney and Chris, spent two days on a family volunteer project with the Food Bank. Lee wrote about his experience for the Food Bank’s blog – here’s some of what he had to say:
My name is Lee and I am an eighth grader in Austin ISD. I’m also in the Boy Scouts. One of the requirements for a Boy Scout merit badge I am working on is to plan and carry out a project that involves the participation of your family. Mrs. Long from the Food Bank helped me pick my project, which was to work in the kitchen where the meals get prepared on one day and then help distribute the food on the following day. It is a lot of work to package and distribute food. But in the end, you look back at what you did and you feel proud. Not just because of the work you did, but also because you know that you just helped give somebody a healthy meal they might not have been able to afford on their own.
I have volunteered a number of times at the Central Texas Food Bank, but this was the first time I had actually gone to a food distribution site. It was fun getting to see and visit with the people you are helping. We got to spend time with a number of first, second, and third graders at one of Austin’s recreation centers. There are a lot of ways you can help the community but none are as important as helping people feed their families. If you or your family is in need of food, I encourage you to contact the Central Texas Food Bank. If you or your family can help, I encourage you to give what you can. My family and I have seen the difference it makes.
You can read Lee’s full story and other Food Bank news on our blog at centraltexasfoodbank.org/news. Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer
Our Mission: To nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. A member of 6500 Metropolis Dr., Austin, TX 78744 | 512.282.2111 | centraltexasfoodbank.org