News from the Central Texas Food Bank
You’re Helping a Grandmother After a Tragedy Food Bank is Still Helping Long After Disaster Strikes Advocacy Matters to the Hunger Issue We Need Your Help to Restock Our Shelves
“My cupboard is empty” There’s a light blue house on a corner of one of the neighborhoods in Blanco, Texas. There are two signs outdoors: Thrift Store and the Blanco Good Samaritan Center. After entering and passing all the furniture, 51-year old Darlene heads towards the back to the pantry. Though it has been months since she stopped by the pantry, a volunteer recognizes her and greets her with a warm smile. Upon reviewing her intake form, the volunteer informs Darlene that it needs to be updated. When Darlene is asked about her household size, she pauses and sadness takes over her face. There are two people in her house now—herself and her grandson. Darlene can’t help but cry when she explains what happened. She is now responsible for raising her 10-year-old grandson, Robert, after her son recently committed suicide. Darlene cleans houses for a living and makes just enough to support herself. The cost of the funeral was too much for her to take on, but with help from the community, she was able to say goodbye to her son and give her grandson a fresh start.
With a sixth grader under her roof, Darlene needed to make changes to her 30-year old house. Donations from her neighbors allowed her to take time off work to remodel her grandson’s room without having to worry about her bills. “I took two weeks off of work and I redid my grandson’s room for a fresh start for him,” Darlene said. “I got him a new bed, I painted his room, I put a new floor in. I live in an old ranch house and it’s a very old building. It’s not a typical house. So, that all went to him. It’s tough but somehow we make it and God always gives me enough to make it.” In the past, her son would help her when he could. Without his support and with full responsibility for her grandson, her budget is
tighter than ever. Once in a while, Robert’s great-grandparents will watch him, but their health problems make it difficult for them to babysit. Darlene now has to worry about covering day care expenses and anything else her grandson needs. “[Day care] went up $110 a week. It’s four to five hundred dollars a month. That’s a car payment. My car payment wasn’t that much, but somehow I do it,” Darlene said. To help Robert cope with his father’s death, Darlene found karate classes that she could afford with the survivor benefits her grandson receives and a bit of her wages. However, she can’t pay for everything a growing boy wants and she has to say no to him to stretch her budget as much as possible.
I have a garden usually, but this has been a very tough year for me and I haven’t had time to mess with the garden. Now we’re going into a drought, so I’m not going to have my fresh vegetables.
“We just don’t do much. We don’t eat out much. I mean, it’s a big deal for us to even go to the Mexican food restaurant and it’s the best deal,” Darlene said. “He’ll get out of karate and he’s hungry. It’s dinner time and we can’t stop. We’re going home and I’m making something. I’ll make tuna sandwiches. He likes bean and cheese [chalupas].” Driving her grandson back and forth to karate classes, grief counseling, day care, and driving to work outside of town has really increased her gas expenses. But gas isn’t her main concern. “I’ll sell something to pay that electric bill, to be comfortable; you know what I mean, because if you don’t get your rest, you can’t work. So you darken up the windows…you go and buy the blackout curtains and try and keep it cool, and just stay on that side of the house,” Darlene said. The record summer heat has made it even more difficult for her to cover her utilities, but it has done more damage than that. Darlene lives on a ranch, miles away from town. Larger grocery stores are too far for her to shop at and the prices at the nearest grocery store are higher. To help supplement her groceries, she gets eggs from chickens she owns and she grows fresh vegetables in her garden. But the high temperatures have taken a toll on her garden — her source of fresh produce. “I have a garden usually, but this has been a very tough year for me and I haven’t had time to mess with the garden. Now we’re going into a drought, so I’m not going to have my fresh vegetables,” she said. With the new responsibility of raising her grandson and an increase in all her expenses, Darlene no longer had the means to keep her pantry full. “I haven’t gone grocery shopping and spent more than $50 at once in a long time because I haven’t been able to afford it,” she said. Though she knew it was going to be painful changing her household size on the intake form, Darlene made her way to the pantry after realizing she was out of staples. “I’m a single grandmother; I clean houses for a living. I raise my grandson and I do manual labor for a living. It’s a big help, especially on basics,” Darlene said. “I haven’t been in here in a couple months and I looked in the pantry and …I’m like oh my gosh I have to go to the Food Bank, my cupboard is empty,” Darlene said. To help Darlene get back on her feet, the volunteer at the pantry allowed her to get a little extra food to fully restock her shelves. Darlene didn’t hesitate to get a few extra cans of green beans, because her grandson loves green beans.
I cook. And if you cook, you can come to the Food Bank and you can stretch your meals. And it really helps. With each food item she picked up, Darlene had an idea of what she could make with it. She loves to cook and she was looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen. “I cook. And if you cook, you can come to the Food Bank and you can stretch your meals. And it really helps,” she said. She’ll freeze the meat and chicken and divide it up to last her a couple of days. For dessert, she can make peach cobbler pie from the canned peaches she gets. Her family can snack on the fresh blueberries she receives or she can treat Robert to homemade blueberry pancakes like they have at IHOP, she said. As a resourceful grandmother, Darlene lets nothing go to waste. With a rescue dog, chickens, cats, and even a rescue donkey on her ranch, she makes sure nothing ends up in the landfill. “If something in the fridge, like the lettuce is getting brown, give it to the chickens. They love it. If you’ve got some apples that are getting a little bruised up, give it to the donkey, he loves it. Just don’t waste it,” Darlene said. It’s been really tough for Darlene and Robert, but she’s grateful for the help the Food Bank has provided. In addition to restocking her pantry, the money she saved on groceries at the Blanco Good Samaritan Center has given her an opportunity to make her grandson’s birthday a little brighter. With help from her neighbors, she’s excited to be able to get him a bicycle and have a small party for him. “Thank you very, very much. It helps out everybody,” Darlene said.
Advocacy Matters to the Hunger Issue By Kathy Green, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Policy In September we promote Hunger Action Month (HAM), a Feeding America campaign through its respective food banks to highlight the hunger issue. One of the important elements of HAM is advocacy. The word advocacy means “providing a voice.” That is exactly what we are doing when we advocate on the hunger issue—we provide a voice for people who are often the least heard. While our representative democracy is built around the idea that everyone has access to their elected officials, this isn’t always the case. Many people, especially those facing the day-to-day struggles of poverty, do not have the time or knowledge to meet with or contact their members of Congress. They are trying too hard to make ends meet and support their families. Furthermore, two-thirds of the people the Central Texas Food Bank serves are children, seniors, and people with disabilities. These are the most vulnerable of our residents, and the least likely to have political access.
It is incumbent on those of us who care about ending hunger to advocate on behalf of our neighbors. Most of us would speak out if we saw a wrong happening in front of us, so we should do likewise against the injustice of hunger in our own backyard. As Congress focuses on many other issues like the economy or foreign relations, hunger doesn’t always rise to the top of their agenda. It is important for us to bear witness to it. Additionally, as the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” There is strength in numbers when advocating for an issue, and elected officials will hear many repeated voices speaking the same message. This Hunger Action Month, pay attention to the issues being considered in Congress, ask questions, call your representatives, and resolve to VOTE! Our food bank and the many people we serve are relying on your advocacy.
UPCOMING EVENTS Hunger Action Day September 6, 2018 Central Texas Food Bank Come spend your morning or afternoon with us on Hunger Action Day to lend a hand in the kitchen, garden or warehouse. Sponsored by Whataburger, volunteers will also be treated to a free lunch. Sign up to volunteer at www. centraltexasfoodbank.org/volunteer. Austin Beerworks Release Party September 8, 2018 Austin Beerworks The Food Bank is partnering with Austin Beerworks to brew a collaboration beer. Come celebrate and sample this beer at the beer release party on Saturday, September 8th at the brewery. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank.
Hunger Heroes Dinner September 13, 2018 Central Texas Food Bank One of the Food Bank’s largest fundraisers is a dinner featuring Chef Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye. Guests will enjoy a multi-course menu while honoring this year’s Hunger Heroes and raising more meals for our Central Texas neighbors. Randalls “Hunger Is” Campaign All September long Your local Randalls store The Hunger Is initiative supports the Food Bank’s BackPack program, which supplies nutritious food to children to take home and share with their family throughout the weekend. You can help ensure that Central Texas children have full stomachs when you shop at Randalls throughout the month of September and make a donation at the register. Beer Yoga First Sunday of every month Jackalope South Shore Join Bell’s Brewery at Jackalope South Shore for free yoga and beer! Bring a donation for the Food Bank for a free guided yoga class with a complimentary beer from Bell’s Brewery to enjoy during or after your workout. Volunbeer Last Tuesday of every month Central Texas Food Bank The ABGB, as part of The Hell Yes Project, is teaming up with the Food Bank for an evening of volunteering in our warehouse. After a shift of putting your hands, heart and soul to work, you can enjoy the satisfying taste of a cold ABGB beer. Sign up for this unique shift at centraltexasfoodbank.org/volunteer.
THANK YOU FOR HELPING FIGHT HUNGER! 1,14. Fun Stop Fest and 5K Previously known as the Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5K, this celebration included a costume contest, live music, and a 5K run with fun stops throughout the route. The Food Bank received $1, enough to create 4 meals, from every festival pass sold.
2,9. Summer Meals That Matter Celebration Kids from Pan American Recreation Center, as well as adult leaders from partner businesses, came to the Food Bank to celebrate our 2018 Summer Meals That Matter Campaign. The kids rotated through activity stations to learn about gardening, sorting produce, nutrition and cooking. 3. Volunbeer The last Tuesday of each month, volunteers and beer come together to create Volunbeer night hosted by the ABGB, as part of The Hell Yes Project. 4, 10. KUTX & Threadgill’s Back to the Garden KUTX and Threadgill’s teamed up to bring Austin great live music while helping alleviate food insecurity in our community. Every Friday in July featured a free concert while the Food Bank collected food as well as monetary donations, raising 4,070 meals.
5. Help End Hunger Throughout May and June, shoppers donated money at the H-E-B checkout line, helping raise money for the summer months when the need for food assistance is greatest. Every year the campaign creates thousands of meals for those in need. 6. Austin Empty Bowl Project Summer Concert Austin Empty Bowl Project brought together musicians Adam and Chris Carroll, Grace Pettis and Shawnee Kilgore to help fight hunger. The flagship Empty Bowl event will be November 18, 2018, at the Food Bank — save the date! 7. Texas Capital Bank gives back Texas Capital Bank came to volunteer in the warehouse and made a generous gift of $10,000 to support the Mobile Food Pantry program.
8,13. Austin Restaurant Weeks presented by Tito’s® Handmade Vodka Austinites enjoyed a two-week-long dining extravaganza featuring prix fixe menus at the Austin area’s best restaurants. A portion of the price from each meal benefited the Food Bank. 11,16. 28th Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival Guests enjoyed sampling hundreds of the best hot sauces while listening to live music at the world’s largest hot sauce festival. Entry to the event was a donation to the Food Bank, creating thousands of meals for Central Texans in need. 12,15. Quesoff Austin-area chefs competed for the best Queso in town at this annual event. Entry was a donation to the Food Bank, so everyone enjoyed tasting the cheesy queso options while feeling good about fighting hunger in our community.
Sydney in her new kitchen
Food Bank conveyor packed for Puerto Rico
Food Bank is Still Helping Long After Disaster Strikes Just one year ago Hurricane Harvey brought devastating wind and rain to Texas. But in true Texas fashion, our community stepped up to the challenge and responded immediately to lend a hand to our neighbors. Your support all year long meant we were prepared to act fast – sending supplies to our sister food banks across the state, preparing meals for evacuees in our own backyard, and acting as a hub for donations before they were sent to the most affected areas. What you may not realize is that your Food Bank doesn’t stop providing support for disaster recovery when the emergency relief work is over. Events like Hurricane Harvey can disrupt the economic stability of households and entire communities for years as they work to rebuild in changed or uncertain conditions. For Harvey disaster recovery work this means partnering directly with organizations in La Grange, Texas, working to rebuild houses for the more than 150 families who found themselves without a home after the flooding subsided. The Colorado Landing Mobile Home Community sits on the bank of the Colorado River in La Grange. Last year, as Harvey’s rains continued to swell the river, it brought water into nearly every home. “Everything was completely ruined, in all honesty,” said Sydney, one of the community’s residents. “I remember spending about two days at a laundromat. My friend came to help me and we got as many clothes as we thought we could save and spent two days just washing and washing. We were able to save some stuff but all the furniture, all of our pictures, and
everything like that was just ruined.” Sydney is not just a resident at Colorado Landing, she also works at the community’s office. “I see it every day. I manage the front desk so you know it was hard at first…it was heartbreaking to see all the devastation. Not only for us but for all the families who lived here and all the people I knew that were living here and the things that they lost as well.” Fortunately, the Central Texas community has found incredible ways to help its neighbors. The Food Bank has partnered with local organizations, AMEN Food Pantry and the La Grange Area Disaster Recovery Team (LGADRT), at the forefront of community rebuilding for local families and residents. Our partnership supports ongoing food distributions at AMEN Food Pantry, where people impacted by Harvey can receive additional grocery assistance as they work long-term to rebuild their homes and recover from the ongoing financial challenges brought by the storm. Working with LGADRT, the Food Bank is thinking beyond just the food needed to feed a family today. Disaster relief funding is helping to purchase kitchen appliances for newly rebuilt homes and provide gift cards to stock home pantries, ensuring that these families will have the means to make meals in their new homes. Not long after Harvey hit the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, leaving thousands without power, food and basic needs. As part of Feeding America’s disaster relief
response, two of our bilingual staff members joined other volunteers on the ground in Puerto Rico to get our sister food bank there up and running. Our staff made changes to the warehouse and food sorting process to increase productivity and response time. They delivered supplies on foot throughout the island to hundreds of families and even helped connect a master sergeant stationed in Fort Hood with her mother in Puerto Rico. After coming back, our warehouse director didn’t hesitate to pack up the Food Bank’s second product recovery conveyor belt, along with a conveyor belt coming from Greater Chicago Food Depository, to send to the Puerto Rico Food Bank to aid with response. With all the disasters, we also increased our own preparedness. The Food Bank, like others, can experience food sourcing challenges during a disaster. Now, we’re stocking enough supplies for more than 1,500 emergency relief boxes so we can respond as soon as emergency resources are needed. This preparedness has already been important as we responded to calls for help in the Rio Grande Valley because of flooding and to students in San Marcos when fires took their homes. It will be a long time before life returns to normal for many residents of La Grange and similar communities across the country. Your support of the Food Bank helps them get there, and ensures that a strong emergency food safety net exists to help meet the next challenge that arises.
THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE FIRST AUSTIN RESTAURANT WEEKS A HUGE SUCCESS
W. Hamilton & Co. SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTING PARTNERS Screamer Co. | ProductionFor Johnson’s Backyard Garden
Claudia Alarcón, CultureMap Austin Jessi Cape, Austin Chronicle Michelle Cheng, Austin Food Blogger Alliance Shawn Cirkiel, Parkside Projects Scott Creamer, Screamer Co. John Crow, Ace Mart Restaurant Supply Jane Ko, A Taste of Koko Jacquelyn Mangione, Preferred Source Nick Pugliese, Bell’s Brewery Kelly Stocker, Kelly Consulting Co Matt Swinney, Fashion X Brandon Watson, CultureMap Monique Sandhu, ATX Eats & Treats Jillynn Shaver, W. Hamilton & Co., PLLC
AND ALL THE RESTAURANTS WHO HELPED FIGHT HUNGER IN OUR COMMUNITY!
We need your help to restock our shelves The summer heat may be lingering, but time spent staying up late on weeknights and hours spent lounging by the neighborhood pool is dwindling as families prepare for children to head back to school. As you may know, summer is one of the busiest times for the Food Bank. It’s the season our resources are stretched to the limit as we try to supplement the needs of families whose children lose access to free and reduced-price meals from their school cafeteria right when utility and childcare bills begin to soar. Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation and these past three months were no exception. All summer long, with your generous support, our commercial kitchen provided more than 3,000 daily meals to children in need. Now, because our resources have been depleted meeting the summer demand, we need your help once more. When you make a donation today you’ll help us restock the shelves of the Food Bank so that whenever someone falls on hard times, we can be there to lend a helping hand. Rest assured that when you make a donation your gift is put to good use - 96 percent of all donated resources are returned to the community through programs and services. Plus, your investment provides a significant impact because every $25 you donate will provide 100 meals for families in need right here in our Central Texas community. Will you help us restock our shelves? Every gift makes a difference. You can donate using the envelope that accompanied this newsletter or by visiting us online at centraltexasfoodbank.org. Thank you for joining us in the fight against hunger. We can’t meet the need without you.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Mark J. Williams, Chair Barrett Wood, Vice Chair WoodGen, LLC
Joyce Mullen Dell, Inc. Stephen Portner
Terry G. Knighton, Secretary Luminex Corporation
Hon. Jeff Rose Texas Third Court of Appeals
Kevin J. Koch, Treasurer McLane Company, Inc.
Jen Alessandra SolarWinds Heidi Baschnagel National Instruments Corporation Ann Benolken Seton Healthcare Family Shaun Cranston Halff Associates, Inc, Hari Jayaram Applied Materials Timothy M. Lee thinc.small, LLC
Clint Scott CLS Partners Sheldy Starkes, MBA, PMP Booker, Starkes & Patodia, Inc. Leslie Sweet HEB Grocery Company, LP Anneliese Tanner Austin Independent School District Scott Weatherford Jackson Walker LLP Shayne Woodard Waterloo Lobby & Advocacy, Inc.
Pat Massey IBM Corporation
FEEDBACK? Questions, comments or change of address? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Read it online Download and subscribe to Food Bank publications at centraltexasfoodbank.org
THANK YOU HUNGER ACTION MONTH SPONSORS
MESSAGE from the PRESIDENT & CEO September is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. Throughout the month, the Food Bank will be encouraging action through its “Nothing Runs on Empty” campaign—a way for Central Texans to donate, volunteer and advocate in the fight against hunger. The Food Bank and our Partner Agencies lead the charge in the battle against hunger in a 21-county service area twice the size of Massachusetts, where nearly 450,000 people like Darlene (featured in this issue) face hunger. It’s important that all of our neighbors have access to enough healthy food to reach their full potential—especially our children, who cannot grow, succeed or learn on an empty stomach. But we can’t win the fight against this public health crisis without your help. That’s where your role in Hunger Action Month comes in. To shine a light on the toll hunger takes on individuals and our community, the “Nothing Runs on Empty” campaign asks you to consider and share how it must feel to live with an empty stomach, which puts a healthy life and a promising future at risk. Check out how you can add your voice to the cause at centraltexasfoodbank.org/ham2018. Or, if you’d like to step up your commitment to fighting hunger by participating more actively, you can explore activities ranging from holding your own virtual food drive to volunteering in the Food Bank’s warehouse, kitchen or garden. In fact, if you volunteer on Thursday, September 6th, our friends from Whataburger will treat you to lunch. Another way to help is to make sure you’re registered to vote and then head to the polls on election day. Why? Because many decisions made in Washington, D.C., and Austin affect the Food Bank and the people we serve. Things like how much food we have to distribute, who is able to get food assistance and how much, and whether we can provide summer and afterschool meals to kids. The voter registration deadline is October 9th; election day is Tuesday, November 6th. Please educate yourself on the issues and candidates and VOTE! Finally, make plans to join us for our annual Hunger Heroes dinner on September 13th, which celebrates the Food Bank’s partners working to end hunger. Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef of 2016, Chef Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye and Henbit, will be creating a custom menu for our guests and serving it in the CTFB warehouse. (Event details and ticket options can be found at ctxfoodbank.org/HungerHeroes). As always, thank you for your support.
Derrick Chubbs President & CEO
Our mission: To nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. 6500 Metropolis Dr., Austin, TX 78744 | 512.282.2111 /CentralTexasFoodBank
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