Hunger Heroes - Fall 2019

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An exclusive newsletter for our Hunger Heroes

Fall 2019

What’s INSIDE You’re Helping People Find Careers Nutritious Food Feeds Curiosity Healthy Pantry Initiative

You’re Helping People Find Careers Daniel Zamarripa was astonished to receive a call from Culinary Trainer, Dimitra Vourliotis, to say he was accepted in the Food Bank’s second Culinary Training Program last January. “I’m not too old?” he asked. Daniel, 63, retired early after many decades in warehouse work. He was always interested in cooking. In his 30’s, he had spine surgery that limited his mobility. Bored at home, he began watching the Food Network and was inspired by Emeril Lagasse. “I started cooking everything for my family, and everything from scratch if possible. I love the feeling of having company over to eat and seeing their face when they ate my food,” he said. Daniel even tried out for MasterChef years ago when auditions were in Austin. “Even though I didn’t get through the next rounds, they told me it was the best chicken they ever had.” When he heard about the Culinary Training Program from a friend, he was skeptical. “No way. No one is going to have a program for free,” Daniel said. When Dimitra called, she confirmed that


the 12-week class was free. No strings attached. Daniel reminisced how excited he was to be given the opportunity to continue learning at his age. “I’m 63 years old, I haven’t gone to school in a long time. Culinary school was something I always wanted but I didn’t want the student loans. I told everyone, look! ‘I’m going back to school!’” Daniel was never late. He made a commitment to get the most out of the program. Even though he was an avid home cook, he was excited to learn how to cook in a commercial kitchen. “Cooking at home, I wasn’t knowledgeable about temperature safety for cooking and storing food. I appreciated all of the technical skills I learned and getting to use commercial equipment like the tilt skillet and blast chiller. They also gave me the opportunity to become certified [in food safety] and gave me a knife set to get me started. I couldn’t believe it.” He also appreciated that the food they cooked for practice never went to waste. “The food we cook, it’s going to someone in need. Someone is going to benefit from our learning.” During the program, students helped to create 1,000 value

added meals for families in need. After graduating from the Food Bank’s Culinary Training Program, Central Texas Food Bank Chef Kim Carter immediately hired him to work in the kitchen that gave him the skills he needed to work in the culinary world. “I was excited to give back to my community and to the Food Bank. I wanted to use my new skills to provide meals for kids. I grew up when sometimes I didn’t know when my next meal was coming. It feels good to give back.” You can meet Daniel and hear more of his story by volunteering in the Food Bank kitchen. “My favorite part of my job is meeting the amazing volunteers and externs that I get to train and cook with in the kitchen. There are great people here.” The Culinary Training Program is a free 12-week program that runs 5 days a week, 30 hours per week and is a mix of classroom time and hands-on training designed to teach basic culinary skills such as equipment operation, knife skills and basic cooking techniques.

Nutritious Food Feeds Curiosity Similar to summer, a large population of children in Central Texas do not have access to nutritious meals when they are away from school over the weekend. That’s why, with the start of each school year, the Central Texas Food Bank activates its annual BackPack Program to ensure that children in need receive daily healthy nourishment. BackPacks are handed off to children on the last day before the weekend or holiday vacation and are full of nutritious, child-friendly, non-perishable, easily consumable food. We spoke with fifth grader, Salene, to get an idea of what she thinks about the program: Hi Salene, tell me about your family. Yeah. My mom was actually not born here. She was born in Nepal. And so was my dad. And I’m an only child. At home, what kind of food does your mom make for you? She makes a lot of healthy food. She makes veggies. And baked potatoes. She makes a lot of lentils with rice and sometimes she gets me dumplings, which are my favorite. She always makes different stuff. Do you like to eat vegetables? Yes. I mostly like broccoli. I also like zucchini. I like carrots, that’s a vegetable right? I like peas. Mostly I like all veggies, except I don’t like onions. What about fruit? What kind of fruit do you like? All of them, except I don’t really like pineapple, because it hurts my tongue. Can you tell me a little about the BackPack bags you get to take home on Friday evenings? I think that they are actually pretty nice because that food is enough to save a person who is homeless [from being hungry] actually.

What’s your favorite part of what you get? I like that it literally has every single part of a snack that you need. It has breakfast, which is milk and cereal. It has lunch which I think there’s something like hummus, I don’t really remember. It’s all good. I have a question. How is it having a job like that, giving free food to people who need it? I think it is really cool because you know you are doing something good for others. And what about you? What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a scientist who studies the solar system. That’s awesome! Where did you get that idea from? You see, I’ve always had a question in my mind that I have thought of for a long time. I have asked many people and I still don’t know the answer. What is it? How did the universe start? Since every person has a mother, how did it start? What did it look like? How does a galaxy rotate around? What is the Milky Way galaxy rotating around? I don’t know all those answers. That’s something you’re going to have to figure out in school. Speaking of, what do you think about kids getting the BackPacks at school? I think it is very kind to give them free food because sometimes their parents don’t have enough money. Would you like to say anything to the people who give us money so we can buy food for kids? God bless them because they are helping a lot of children in this world. Thanks to Salene for spending some time with us to talk about her family, free food programs and the universe.


Dear Friend, School is now in session and families all over Central Texas are packing their children’s backpacks with nutritious lunches and snacks. These meals are important fuel for students to achieve their best selves in class. Many students will rely on the free or reduced price breakfast and lunch meals provided during the school year. Access to nutritious meals can still prove to be challenging for families struggling to make ends meet. Parents worry about stretching their budgets to provide meals after school or during the weekends when they do not have access to the meals at school. They will do anything to make sure their children have food to eat, even if it means the adults skip a meal. Fortunately, the Food Bank can take some worry off the table and allow families to focus on building their lives and not whether they will face another empty plate, through our Kids Café and BackPack programs, aimed at filling those meal gaps outside of school. The Food Bank believes that our community is resilient and with the support they receive from the Food Bank, they can focus on building dreams, at any age. In this issue, you will get to meet Daniel, a former culinary student in our 2nd culinary class who now is a line chef at the Food Bank, creating meals that go out to over 1,000 Central Texas kids every day. As our most generous supporters, you go above and beyond to create a hungerfree community. Thank you for your dedication to fighting hunger all year round.

Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer

HEALTHY PANTRY INITIATIVE In 2016, the Central Texas Food Bank along with five Partner Agencies launched the Healthy Pantry Initiative (HPI) as a pilot program to improve the overall health of our neighbors experiencing hunger. The ultimate goal of the Food Bank and our Partner Agencies is to ensure that anyone at risk of hunger in Central Texas has access to nutritious food that not only provides immediate relief from the physical pain of hunger, but also provides a foundation for good health and wellbeing. The overarching objective of the HPI is to encourage consumption of lowfat proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, which aligns perfectly with the Food Bank’s intentions. This year the HPI is working with twenty Partner Agencies to develop best practices to encourage healthy food selection and improved diet quality among the people we serve. One important aspect of the HPI is implementing a behavioral economics strategy known as “nudges.” Examples of the nudges employed at our Partner Agencies include placing healthy food options on shelves at eye level or

on aisle end caps, distributing produce preparation and recipe cards, hosting cooking demonstrations and offering recipe samples in the pantry. Abiding Love Food Pantry in Austin is one of the twenty Partner Agencies participating in the HPI. Lee and Michael are a lovely married couple who take care of their family of nine children and Lee’s brother. They visited Abiding Love recently and shared that they need food assistance because Lee is experiencing heart failure and no longer able to work. Lee and his brother both struggle with diabetes. Both Lee and Michael enjoy the HPI. They explained that there is, “always something new for them that they put out” referring to the nutrition education posters displayed at Abiding Love. They also enjoy when the food pantry offers large quantities of berries and fruit. They use the fruit to make nutritious smoothies for their family. They know that the food pantry works hard to feed their clients and they are thankful for all of the work that they do.

Our Mission: To nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. A member of 6500 Metropolis Dr., Austin, TX 78744 | 512.220.2680 |