Feedback - Spring 2018

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News from the Central Texas Food Bank


You’re Helping a Family Access Fresh Produce Crank Up the Giving in 2018 Why You Should Care About Entitlement Reform

Spring 2018

“We have gotten really good at becoming creative” Zoe, Willow, Jacob and Isaiah play carefree at the park near the Food Bank’s Dove Springs Mobile Food Pantry distribution. Their parents, Mary and Sean, are standing in a line of nearly 200 people that extends out to the parking lot. They stand waiting to receive food to bring back home for their kids. Without the food they receive from the Food Bank, the family’s table would be empty. “We’ve sat down and done our budget over and over and over again… there’s not enough to go around each month. There’s not,” Sean said. Money is very tight for the family. Sean is a disabled veteran, who served as a tank driver during Operation Desert Storm. His service left him with back and ear problems, making it difficult to work and provide for his family. Sean receives VA benefits and the family lives on a fixed income, but it’s barely enough for all their expenses. Between groceries, toiletries, and bills, their expenses are more than $1,000 a month. “We live very frugally. We don’t spend money on anything we don’t need,” Mary said. “You know, we get our clothes from thrift stores and go do free fun things with the kids. We do what we do to make it by.”


To save money, the family went without a vehicle for four years and up until recently used public transportation to get around. Though they didn’t mind taking the bus, as the kids got older and became involved with different activities and classes, it became difficult traveling with all their children on the bus from place to place. The family has learned to live with less and have made lifestyle changes to stay within their budget. From shopping at thrift stores to hiking at the park and attending free concerts, the family finds ways to cut expenses. With sunnier days ahead, the family looks forward to South by Southwest’s free gaming expo and watching local music acts at Blues on the Green at Zilker Park. Recently, the family has had an even harder time making ends meet, especially with an

unexpected expense. During winter, their heater broke and the family had to resort to using their emergency heater, causing their electric bill to skyrocket. It has been difficult for the family to pay that bill off. “So we’ve been broke for the past couple of months, but we’ve been making it work,” Mary said. “You know that’s the constant battle once you live on a fixed income, the expenses don’t stay fixed,” Sean said. “The expenses are fluctuating every month.” The family receives SNAP benefits, which help them afford more food on their limited budget. But they’re still turning to the Food Bank to make it all the way through the month. “We just get a little bit of food stamps each month and we barely make enough to pay our

I recommend anybody to make smoothies for their kids because you can put spinach, carrots, avocado, everything in it and they’ll drink it.

bills,” Mary said. “The food pantry definitely helps fill the gap between the food stamps and what we need.” At the pantry the family gets staples, like rice and beans, and their favorite – fresh produce – to help supplement their trips to the grocery store. They have even begun planning meals around what they get at the pantry. “We have gotten really good at becoming creative with the food from the food pantries. We can normally use every single thing they give us and make a good meal out of it,” Mary said. In addition to helping the family meet their basic food needs, the produce they receive has helped them change their eating habits. They’re eating healthier and are closer to reaching their goal of having their diet consist of 50 percent fresh produce. With their children being homeschooled and at home the whole day, Mary and Sean have made extra efforts to ensure their kids eat healthier. With help from the Food Bank, they have been able to provide nourishing food to their children. “We started with these cranberries they give us. They are really good in salads and the kids like it. It makes it sweet for them,” Mary said. Using the cranberries was the start. Now, the family has a daily diet routine that includes fresh produce throughout the whole day, thanks to the Food Bank. For breakfast the family will usually have toast or oatmeal with a side of fruit, like plums or oranges. Each morning the kids will also eat healthy produce smoothies. “I recommend anybody to make smoothies for their kids because you can put spinach, carrots, avocado, everything in it and they’ll drink it.” Mary said.

“I mean these kids, they love them. Every day if we don’t have them out on time they start asking. That’s awesome,” Sean said. The kids also snack on fruit or fresh vegetables during the day. Mary and Sean couldn’t be happier that their kids are getting their daily portion of vegetables and fruits so

We have one medication now and it’s mostly because we changed our diet so much. easily. Thanks to the Food Bank, not only does the family have a meal on their table each night, but they’re able to lead a healthier lifestyle. For Sean, their diet has made a huge difference. He has been able to reduce the amount of medication he takes for blood pressure, cholesterol and pre-diabetes. “We have one medication now and it’s mostly because we changed our diet so much,” Mary said. Though the family has had a rough time, they’re happy with what they have and are grateful for all the help they have received. “We’re very thankful,” Sean said. “To be honest, without the food pantry, there would be nights that we would probably have to go without eating.”

Why You Should Care About Entitlement Reform By Kathy Green, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Policy As members of Congress passed tax reform in December, an estimated $1 trillion was added to the federal deficit. One legislative approach on the table to reduce this deficit would be a series of “entitlement reforms”, restructuring programs such as Medicare, Social Security, and SNAP (formerly “food stamps”). Should Congress cut programs such as these, many of our society’s most vulnerable—including thousands of our Central Texas neighbors—could find themselves falling deeper into poverty, despite their best efforts. As a result, more families would need to turn to the Food Bank’s Partner Agency pantries and soup kitchens as a source of food on a regular basis, rather than turning to us only in times of crisis. This would put even more pressure on the strained resources of the Food Bank and our Partner Agencies and, in the long run, may not be sustainable. Many point to the block-granting model used for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as a way to reduce spending while giving states operational flexibility. While reducing the deficit and providing tax relief are noble goals, it’s also important to reflect on the results of some past reforms in this area. Since TANF was block-granted in 1996, benefits have declined dramatically, with cash assistance in Texas now reaching fewer than five families for every 100 in poverty. This means that those families may struggle to meet basic needs such as rent, utilities, and transportation—items not always covered by other public assistance programs. Continued on page 6




Austin Oyster Festival February 24, 2018 The Lawn at Seaholm The Annual Austin Oyster Festival is presented by Jeri’s Seafood and Hope Farmers Market. Attendees will enjoy live music and a selection of oysters prepared in various ways, along with shrimp, po’boys, pommes frites and more. A portion of proceeds raised at the event benefit the Food Bank. General admission and VIP admission tickets can be purchased online at

1,14. Randalls Annual Turkey Donation Randalls donated 1,000 turkeys to the Food Bank before the Thanksgiving holiday to ensure Central Texans in need had a memorable holiday season.





3,10. A Legacy of Giving Day of Service More than 35 schools from Austin collected food donations in PODS storage containers at their schools. Students then visited the Food Bank to unload the PODS and celebrate collecting 39,980 pounds in food donations for hungry Central Texans.

CROP Hunger Walk February 25, 2018 Camp Mabry The Annual Austin CROP Hunger Walk is sponsored by Church World Service and raises money for food, medical care, disaster relief and development locally and throughout the world. The funds raised will help provide more meals for our community through Food Bank programs, like our Mobile Food Pantries. Amplify Austin 6 p.m. March 1 - 6 p.m. March 2, 2018 Amplify Austin brings together hundreds of local nonprofits to raise millions of dollars in online donations for Central Texans in need in just 24 hours. Your donation of $50 can provide fresh, healthy produce for a family of four for an entire month. Pre-schedule your donation today at

4,9.Stuff the Bus Whole Foods Market and Capital Metro teamed up once again to take part in Stuff the Bus, an annual campaign to fill two Capital Metro buses with food donations. Cash donations were also collected at the register at Whole Foods Market stores. This year, the event raised more than 100,000 meals!





7. Bank of America Bank of America employees volunteered in conjunction with their natinoal Give a Meal campaign that raised more than 43,000 meals locally thanks to BOA’s 2-1 matching challenge.





8. Crenshaw Athletic Club Fun Run The children at Crenshaw Athletic Club hosted their annual Fun Run to raise funds for the Food Bank. The number of laps each child ran was matched in dollars by their families and friends, raising nearly $2,000 for the Food Bank! 12,15. Souper Bowl of Caring This annual event brings local schools, organizations, and grocery partners H-E-B, Central Market and Randalls together to tackle hunger. Customers donated money or purchased pre-packaged bags of food while shopping at their local grocery stores.

Monday Warehouse Volunteer Opportunities are back! Starting in February, the Food Bank will have Monday warehouse volunteer opportunities available once again. Shifts run from 9 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1:30–4:30 p.m. To register visit


5. RetailMeNot RetailMeNot not only sponsored the holiday campaign, providing thousands of meals for Central Texans, they came out and volunteered, earning the Volunteer Group of the Quarter award for most hours of service. 6,11. #NoHunger Local hunger fighter Mace Massingill set a goal of feeding 250,000 people through his annual #NoHunger food and fund drive. Working with his “Hunger Captains” he surpassed his goal and raised more than 275,000 meals for those in need!

Austin Reggae Festival April 20-22, 2018 Auditorium Shores Reggae Fest is one of the Food Bank’s largest signature events and has helped raise more than $1,000,000 for the Food Bank since inception. The event raises food and funds for the Food Bank through ticket sales and donations at the gate. Tickets are on sale now at www. CANstruction April 28, 2018 Barton Creek Mall Teams work together to build amazing structures out of canned foods that are then donated to the Food Bank. The structures will be up at Barton Creek Mall and you can vote for your favorite with a small donation to the Food Bank.

2,16. Austin Empty Bowl Project This annual event hosted nearly 2,000 attendees who chose from an array of hand painted bowls and enjoyed delicious soups from local restaurants. This year, the event raised more than 200,000 meals for the Central Texas Food Bank.

13. MLK Day of Service Volunteers from St. David’s Foundation, City of Austin, Health and Human Services Commission, TexMed, Friedlanders, College Forward, Veritas Academy, and more assisted with sorting food and packing donations in our warehouse as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day community service efforts.






Continued from page 3

Crank Up the Giving in 2018 It’s 6 p.m. and it begins. Austin-area charities are glued to the leaderboard to see how much money they’re raising and where they stand against each other. After an intense 24-hours of fundraising, the result is a stronger community. It’s Amplify Austin. Hosted by I Live Here, I Give Here, the concept is simple. Amplify Austin, from 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2 is an online 24-hour day of giving dedicated to helping nonprofits make the greater Austin area a better place for all. Participants keep it local by choosing from approximately 700 nonprofits to support and make their donations to their favorite charities on a single digital platform. Nonprofits have opportunities to win grand prizes and hourly booster prizes for raising the most money in an hour or having the most donors. Additionally, the St. David’s Foundation raises the stakes by matching donations up to $1 million dollars. The more nonprofits raise, the larger their match will be. Between the prizes and the matching challenge, Amplify Austin brings out some friendly competition between charities. For the Food Bank, Amplify Austin helps bridge the gap in fresh produce that the Food Bank always experiences during the spring months by providing a harvest of fresh produce to Central Texans in need. Without help from the Food Bank, many families wouldn’t have access to nourishing fruits and vegetables to lead a healthier life. This year, our goal is to raise enough to provide fresh produce for 4,500 families of four for 1 month, but we need your help.


Despite our best efforts, we’re still falling short of meeting demand by about 30 percent. Help us bring a smile to a mom who can begin planning her family’s dinner when she receives a stew bag filled with carrots, cabbage, potatoes, squash, and onions. Or a little girl who doesn’t have to wait to get home to eat and immediately begins snacking on carrots she received at one of our distributions. Your donation of just $50 will help us provide

Keep helping and supporting our community because you can see the result: a healthier and stronger community. nourishing, healthy produce to a family of four for an entire month. Here’s how you can help: • Pre-schedule your Amplify Austin donation at • Give on Amplify Austin Day between 6 p.m., March 1 and 6 p.m., March 2 at • Start your own fundraiser on behalf of the Food Bank and encourage others to give “Keep helping and supporting our community because you can see the result. The result will be a healthier and stronger community,” Rocio, a Food Bank client, said.

One way to help would be to encourage more opportunities for jobs. A program that can help this is the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program. By more strategically targeting the SNAP E&T dollars that Texas currently receives toward individual clients’ education or training needs, we can remove barriers to work and enable upward financial mobility. HR 1276, a bill moving through Congress, would also support SNAP recipients who are willing and able to work. Finally, as Congress considers the upcoming Farm Bill, they should look for ways to strengthen work outcomes for all SNAP clients. We know that good jobs help lift people out of poverty and off public assistance. There are no easy answers to achieving positive reform. But you can help by becoming an advocate in the fight against hunger. For real and lasting impact, we need your voice to be heard in the halls of our state and national governments to make sure ending hunger is a priority. Our legislative advocacy agenda is guided by a practical world view and objective research, generated both internally and by leading research organizations and universities across the state and country. Those resources are at your disposal so that you can be empowered to help those who need it most.

You’re providing HEALTHY food When you make a donation to the Food Bank, you’re touching so many lives across Central Texas. Nancy and Luana are the oldest daughters in a big family of eight. Like so many young people their age, circumstances have led them to stay at home with mom and dad even though they’re adults in their early 20s. Nancy is the oldest of her siblings at 24, and Luana, the second born, is 21. The family lives in a part of Austin that is rapidly developing and quickly becoming unaffordable as the cost of living increases. Their father is a construction worker and their mother stays home to care for their younger siblings. Nancy tries to do her part to help the family and has a job at an after-school program as a teacher’s assistant. She says she gets paid well, but it’s still not enough to help her whole family. Nancy has plans to one day go to school to become a teacher, but she’s postponing that dream for now since the family needs her help providing money for food.

I get paid well... But it’s kind of not enough. Not enough to help out with the family. Plus, Nancy and Luana’s relatives have a history of diabetes. Several years ago after attending a nutrition program, their mother decided to cut unhealthy foods out of the family’s diet. But, healthy foods don’t always come cheap for their big family. “Sometimes [our dad] doesn’t get as much income like he used to when we were younger. So this is why we rely on food pantries to get the extra food.” Of the pantry they say, “It’s so healthy!” Nancy and Luana are able to take home several bags full of fresh, delicious groceries because of your support of the Food Bank. When you give to the Food Bank during Amplify Austin - and all year long - you ensure there is a helping hand available to greet people like Nancy, Lauana and their entire family. Your generous support means families can stay healthy and nourished, even when times are tough. Please consider pre-scheduling your donation to Amplify Austin today by visiting or give on Amplify Austin Day between 6 p.m., March 1 and 6 p.m., March 2.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Mark J. Williams, Chair

Stephen Portner

Barrett Wood, Vice Chair WoodGen, LLC

Hon. Jeff Rose Texas Third Court of Appeals

Terry G. Knighton, Secretary Luminex Corporation

John Sanchez

Kevin J. Koch, Treasurer McLane Company, Inc. Jen Alessandra SolarWinds Heidi Baschnagel National Instruments Corporation Ann Benolken Seton Healthcare Family Shaun Cranston Brookfield Residential Properties Inc Hari Jayaram Applied Materials

Clint Scott CLS Partners Sheldy Starkes, MBA, PMP Booker, Starkes & Patodia, Inc. Leslie Sweet HEB Grocery Company, LP Anneliese Tanner Austin Independent School District Jason Thurman PlainsCapital Bank Michael G. Watkins, MD, FACC Seton Heart Institute Scott Weatherford Jackson Walker LLP

Timothy M. Lee thinc.small, LLC

Shayne Woodard Waterloo Lobby & Advocacy, Inc.

Pat Massey IBM Corporation Joyce Mullen Dell, Inc.

FEEDBACK? Questions, comments or change of address? Email: Read it online Download and subscribe to Food Bank publications at

MESSAGE from the PRESIDENT & CEO As a Food Bank supporter, you know all too well that hunger isn’t a seasonal issue. It’s something that affects our neighbors like Mary and Sean (featured in this issue) all year long. Unfortunately, although the need doesn’t diminish during this time of year, our shelves do tend to get a little bare. That’s why I’m calling upon your generosity once again for your support during Amplify Austin, which is right around the corner. During this 24-hour online fundraising drive—from 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2—you can help the Food Bank bridge the gap in supply that we always experience during the spring months. Here at the Food Bank, we feel that it’s not just important to provide food to our neighbors in need, it’s also important that the food helps them live healthier lives. That’s why we’ll be focusing on fresh produce during this year’s Amplify Austin. Your donation of just $50 can help us provide fresh, healthy produce to a family of four for an entire month. And through matching gifts, booster prizes and donations, your generosity will feed even more of our neighbors in need. This year, our goal is to raise enough to provide fresh produce for 4,500 families of four for a month. There are thousands of Austin families facing hunger and we won’t rest until we’ve fed them all. But we can only do it with your help. Please consider pre-scheduling your online donation today at My sincere thanks for being part of such a caring community and for supporting the Food Bank’s mission.


Our mission: To nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. 6500 Metropolis Dr., Austin, TX 78744 | 512.282.2111

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