Hunger Heroes - Winter 2020

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An exclusive newsletter for our Hunger Heroes

What’s INSIDE You’re Helping Feed Veterans Volunteer Spotlight Karen Bilberry Amplify Austin FAQ

Winter 2020


You’re Helping Feed Veterans As a part of the Veterans Mobile Pantry Program, the Central Texas Food Bank serves veterans in Temple, Waco and Austin onsite at the Veterans Affairs medical clinics. For Steven, the food assistance he receives at the Olin E. Teague Veteran’s Medical Center is making a huge difference. “I am a war veteran…and received some major injuries and literally live on prayers because what I receive does not stretch to cover rent and bills,” Steve said. While serving in an aviation unit in Rwanda, Steven crushed a number of his vertebrae. Since he did not receive proper treatment afterwards, his situation worsened and now he has bone fragments floating in his nerve canal. The back pain is always there, even while he sleeps. He is not able to work, bend down even slightly or lift anything heavy.

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His disability benefits are not enough to cover food and expenses and his SNAP (Supplement Food Assistance Program) benefits run out before the end of the month. Thanks to the Food Bank, he is able to supplement his groceries with healthy, nutritious food and have wholesome meals on his table. “Even though I receive food stamps, it is not enough to make it through the month. I am glad for programs like yours that help me out,” Steven said. Steven is not alone, nearly 90 percent of our clients who are

SNAP participants say that those benefits run out in three weeks or less each month. The Food Bank is so proud to be involved in this partnership with Feeding America and the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the Mobile Food Pantry program to our Central Texas veterans. Each month the Food Bank operates mobile pantry distributions at 55 sites across our 21 county service area. In fiscal year 2019 our mobile pantries provided nutritious food to an average of 6,594 households like Steven’s every month.

I am glad for programs like yours that help me out.


Volunteer Spotlight – Karen Bilberry Each year, thousands of individuals take time out of their schedules to volunteer with the Food Bank. Their help is invaluable whether it is sorting items in the warehouse, handing out food at a mobile pantry, assisting with meals in our kitchen, or even folding letters and stuffing envelopes. Without volunteers like Karen Bilberry, the Food Bank would need to hire 74 additional full-time employees. When Karen retired in 2012, she didn’t want to stay still, so she looked for ways to keep busy while also making a positive impact on her community. Karen became familiar with the Food Bank when she assisted her former employer with collecting food donations for the Food Bank. She would be called on to pick up the food collection boxes from the warehouse so she decided then that once she retired, she would become a regular volunteer with the Food Bank. “Well, I started out in the warehouse, and then I tried the Mobile Pantry. And I just got hooked,” Karen said. Since February 2015, Karen has regularly volunteered at five of our Mobile Food Pantry sites, sometimes driving up to two hours to reach them. Distance and weather don’t deter her from helping out the Food Bank and our neighbors in need. “I have been in a few rainstorms, but it’s fine, we get through it,” Karen said. “We

get out there and start helping people getting the food out. Of course they are getting rained on too. So we try to do it as fast as possible.” As a familiar face at our Lexington, San Saba, Johnson City, Creedmore, Del Valle and Austin Mobile Food Pantries, Karen has developed friendships with clients and other volunteers over the years. “We meet different [volunteers], so I’ve become friends with them and other people, too. So, you have your friends that you see each time you go to the Mobile Pantry,” she said. Karen has seen her fair share of life’s challenges, losing a husband in 2012 as well as caring for her ailing mother. While Karen herself has not faced food insecurity, her passion to help others in need keeps her committed to volunteering with our Mobile Pantries. “I realize that there are a lot of people who don’t have a lot of things and need a lot of help. It’s just nice to come and help. You get to see all the people and be part of it. I just enjoy doing it,” Karen said. Karen has donated 351 hours over the past five years and has been a huge help at our distributions. Her smile and kindness brighten our clients’ day as she takes on every volunteer role from restocking product to client intake.

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Dear Friend, Happy New Year! For our first Hunger Heroes issue in this new decade we’re sharing an exciting way to make a lasting impact on the community. Amplify Austin is an effective opportunity for you to help serve your Central Texas neighbors in need and spread the word about the important work being done throughout our city. This year more than 700 nonprofit organizations will be participating in Amplify Austin. Many of these nonprofits are organizations that we partner with every day to provide nutritious food to our neighbors in need. Amplify Austin is a perfect time to donate because your investment will be magnified by the generous sponsors who provide matching opportunities. What better way to celebrate your community and the Central Texas Food Bank than by giving through this exciting event and transforming a $50 donation into a gift of $100. Beneath the veil of Austin’s prosperity, there are nearly 150,000 children in Central Texas who can’t be sure where their next meal is coming from. With one in five Central Texas children facing hunger, the Food Bank aims to utilize funds raised during Amplify to go toward our children’s meal programs, nutrition programs, distribution services and Partner Agency networks to help alleviate this issue. Amplify Austin embodies the caring spirit that is alive and well in Central Texas. Having a full day each year to celebrate and support non-profits is incredible, and compassionate people just like you make this a reality. We promise to provide plenty of opportunities for you to help fight hunger this year, but Amplify Austin will certainly be one of the most impactful.

Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer

COMING MARCH 5-6!

What Amplify Austin Day is an online giving campaign that provides an easy and fun way for our entire community to give together.

Who Central Texas Food Bank + I Live Here I Give Here + 700 additional nonprofits = Amplify Austin

When March 5th at 6:00 p.m. to March 6th at 6:00 p.m. Or make your donation early starting January 21!

Where http://bit.ly/AmplifyATX2020

Why One in five Central Texas children face hunger, but together we can change that. Let’s shatter last year’s record-breaking total by raising $400,000 to help fight childhood hunger.

How • Make your Amplify Austin donation starting on January 21, 2020 at www.amplifyatx.org and search for Central Texas Food Bank. Your early-bird gift will be matched, so every $1 you give before March 5th will provide double the impact! • Start a peer-to-peer fundraising page to encourage your friends, family and colleagues to join you in fighting hunger in Central Texas. • Volunteer during an Amplify Austin Thank-a-thon at the Central Texas Food Bank headquarters on March 9th and help us tell Amplify donors how much we appreciate their support.

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 | centraltexasfoodbank.org