Hunger Heroes - Spring 2019

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An exclusive newsletter for our Hunger Heroes

What’s INSIDE How You Helped Federal Employees Food Banker Profile: Megan Hall, Children’s Program Manager Food Bank Garden Fights Summer Hunger

Spring 2019


UPCOMING EVENTS Texas Eggfest April 27 at Camp Ben McCulloch

How You Helped Federal Employees Anna and her sister both work full time to help support their disabled and ailing mother. After a recent kidney transplant surgery, their mother started experiencing multiple medical complications which leave her with significant chronic pain. Anna and her sister do their best to transport their mother from the family’s home in Copperas Cove, TX, to critical doctor appointments in Austin and Temple in the car that the family shares. Anna works for the IRS and was furloughed earlier this year during the government shutdown. With only two working adults in the household, it can be tough to make ends meet, especially when Anna hadn’t received a paycheck for over a month. After paying all their bills, Anna said “sometimes there’s very little, if any, money left over” for food. Without enough income coming in, Anna sought help at the Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry at the VA Clinic in Temple during our special food distribution for federal employees on January 24, 2019. This was one of three special food distributions

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for government workers hosted by the Food Bank that served 1,556 households comprised of 5,034 individuals just like Anna and her family. Following her transplant, Anna’s mother has been on a special diet that requires her to eat meals that are low in sodium, potassium, phosphorus and without dairy. Anna says that without the food from the Mobile Pantry “sometimes she’ll have to get stuff that may have more salt than [her mother] needs, like spaghetti because we can stretch that a few days.” At the special food distribution Anna received pantry staples, fruits and veggies—everything she needed to keep her family healthy during the government shutdown. Anna isn’t always able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables that are needed for a balanced diet. Her family is very grateful for the food they receive from the Food Bank, especially the nutritious produce Anna took home. “Thank you,” said Anna about being able to bring food home. “It’s one less thing that we have to worry about. It’s a relief.”

BBQ Outfitters’ Texas Eggfest is back! This year’s events will bring over 140 “egg head” chefs together to compete and celebrate the Big Green Egg (an egg-shaped charcoal barbecue cooker) and all of its wonders. Bring your appetite and taste your way through an amazing array of culinary creations. There’s something for everyone, with live music, drinks, food sampling, face painting and balloons. Tickets are $60 for adults 21 years and older. $15 for attendees 12-20 years old. Admission for children under 12 is free. Visit www.texaseggfest.com for tickets and more information about the event. Gospel Brunch Every Sunday at El Mercado South Join the Purgatory Players for spiritual music for non-denominational folk or “Gospel-ish” brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Backstage at EL Mercado Restaurant South. The Purgatory Players are comprised of local musicians including Jeff Plankenhorn, Jon Dee Graham, “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb, Jon Greene, and Seela Misra. The event is free but monetary donations for the Central Texas Food Bank are welcomed. Make Summer Meals That Matter in the Food Bank Kitchen June 3-August 16 in the Central Texas Food Bank Kitchen We need volunteers to assist our kitchen team in creating and packaging roughly 4,000 meals every day this summer for children participating in our Summer Food Service Program. Thanks to our 4,200 sq ft community kitchen, we’re able to use donated food as well as the nutritious food we’re rescuing to create ready-to-eat meals for our clients. Visit centraltexasfoodbank.org/volunteer to see available shifts and sign up. If you have questions or would like to volunteer with a larger group, please email volunteer@centraltexasfoodbank.org.


Food Banker Profile Megan, Children’s Program Manager

More than one-third of the Food Bank’s clients are children and teens. Our Children’s Program Manager, Megan manages three programs that tackle child food insecurity – Kids Cafe®, BackPack, and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). These programs work with our partner sites to distribute meals to children of low-income families who lack a dependable source of nutritious meals outside of the school day. Q Hi, Megan! Can you tell us about yourself and your role at the Food Bank? I grew up on a farm in small town Wisconsin, so the idea of knowing where food comes from and access to healthy food is close to my heart. Living in a rural area, I knew that limited access to food and healthy options was an issue. Day to day in my role, I make sure that the correct number of meals is ordered, coordinate with our kitchen staff and transportation to make and deliver those meals to our sites, and monitor policies that may affect our feeding programs.

Q So our kitchen staff makes all of the meals that are being distributed to our sites? Yes, the Food Bank used to have a third party vendor create the meals, but we realized that the Food Bank had little input in ensuring that kids actually enjoyed eating those meals. Our kitchen staff’s goal is to create nutritious meals that kids think are yummy! We make meals in house because it is more cost effective and our staff is able to use the data we track about each meal to better understand what kids enjoy eating and what they don’t enjoy. We produce more of the meals they like, and experiment differently on foods that they may not *think* they like. For example, hummus was not a fan favorite, but once we labeled it as “bean dip” instead, they couldn’t get enough! Q What meal is a crowd pleaser from the kitchen? Of course, our pizza stackables are a fan favorite. The kitchen makes the crust in house. It’s an interactive food that is familiar and healthy.

Q Summer is approaching, which means kids will be out of school soon. What does that mean for students experiencing food insecurity? Many of the students who rely on the free or reduced breakfast and lunches will be missing those meals during the summer time, and with high utility bills, parents are faced with difficult choices. The Food Bank’s SFSP program ensures that children have a dependable source of nutrition during the summer break. We will be providing roughly 4,000 lunches and snacks during the summer each day.

You can volunteer to make these meals and more in our kitchen. All meals will be packaged and distributed to children at risk of hunger at one of our after school or summer meal sites. Visit centraltexasfoodbank.org/volunteer to learn more.

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Dear Friend, After wrapping up a busy holiday season, January is typically a slower time for the Food Bank to catch up and replenish our inventory. This year, thousands of furloughed federal workers in Central Texas found themselves missing a paycheck during the government shutdown, resulting in many individuals and their families requiring the Food Bank’s services for the first time.

FOOD BANK GARDEN FIGHTS SUMMER HUNGER

The Food Bank team quickly mobilized to respond through three special food distributions in Austin and Temple. Normally, the Food Bank does not distribute directly to clients from our facility, but because of the higher need, we opened our doors for the first time to distribute pantry items, fresh produce, hygiene kits and water, and provided additional resources to help them find food assistance through our Partner Agencies and government programs. We simply could not have tackled this challenge in a timely manner without the ongoing support and generosity from community members like you. It’s incredibly clear that our community stands ready to rise to the occasion when their neighbors are in need.

Spring is upon us and at the Central Texas Food Bank that means harvesting the last winter vegetables grown by our staff gardener, Greg Mast, in our educational garden on the grounds of the Food Bank. Our garden not only provides a wonderful hands-on experience for volunteers and individuals interested in the basics of gardening, but it also produced 7,627 pounds of organic fresh produce last year that was given directly to our clients. This spring we will plant many rows of the seedlings cultivated by the garden team including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers that will be ready to harvest just in time to be included in the meals we will serve at more than 100 summer feeding sites this year.

In this issue of Hunger Heroes, you will meet our client, Anna, who was affected by the government shutdown. You’ll also learn about our Summer Food Service Program, a child hunger program which provides nutritious meals and snacks to children of low-income families who lack a dependable source of nutritious meals during summer breaks.

The Food Bank has even more in store for our 1.24 acre garden. In 2019, we plan to expand the garden’s capabilities by adding a pavilion with restrooms, produce-washing stations and storage facilities. This redesigned space will allow expansion of our garden operations, engage more volunteers and grow more food to give to our neighbors in need. The space will be optimized for more community engagement; the Food Bank will host public events such as organic gardening and nutrition classes and will even be able to rent out the pavilion space as a social enterprise supporting the Food Bank’s mission.

Thank you for your dedication to fighting hunger all year round.

This year our garden has a very special role to play in the programming of the Food Bank. During the summer of 2019, we have pledged to participate in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Farm Fresh Challenge (FFC), which encourages Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) partner sites to incorporate locally sourced products made by Texans into the meals served each day, as well as offer educational opportunities to learn about local food and agriculture. A large portion of the produce from the garden’s summer harvests will be directed toward our SFSP programs as a part of the FFC. Additionally, our garden and nutrition teams will host field trips to the Food Bank’s facilities for children to experience firsthand how easy it is to grow their own vegetables and eat healthy meals at home.

If you are interested in learning more about our garden programming please contact Lucy Nguyen at lnguyen@centraltexasfoodbank.org or by phone 512-684-2143.

Our Mission: To nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer

A member of 6500 Metropolis Dr., Austin, TX 78744 | 512.220.2680 | centraltexasfoodbank.org