Sustainers Circle - Fall 2020

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An exclusive newsletter for our Sustainers Circle

What’s INSIDE Reinventing the Playbook for Serving Clients Fall Home Gardening Tip Keeping Kids Fed During COVID-19

Fall 2020

Reinventing the Playbook for Serving Clients

In early March, as word of the new Coronavirus started to spread, the Central Texas Food Bank Mobile Pantry team knew they had to react. Together with a network of more than 250 Partner Agencies, the Food Bank was serving nearly 50,000 people each week even before the pandemic. But the community gatherings at most food distribution sites were no longer safe and it soon became clear that a new model for serving clients was needed. The small team of five—which has temporarily grown to more than 20—had to go back to the drawing board. They hunkered down all day for several days until they had a new plan: drive-through food distributions. This meant families who needed food could be served in the safest way possible, while also keeping Food Bank staff and volunteers safe. This new model created many challenges. One of them was finding sites large enough to accommodate long lines of cars without disrupting local traffic patterns. In addition to working with local police to get help with traffic flow, the team made their own maps with Google satellite images and clip art to sketch out how it would work.


Some of these sites became “mass distributions,” which can accommodate more than 1,500 households; the Food Bank is now hosting two mass distributions every week. Volunteers clad in masks and gloves have played a vital role in making it possible to help so many families. Central Texas Food Bank Distribution Programs Manager Tanya Greenough says, “we learned very early on that without community support, we could not pull off this distribution model in a way that it would be a safe and positive experience for clients.” One of those clients is Maria. She participated in one of the drive-through mobile pantries at Del Valle High School. She picked up food for her family of four, which includes her husband and 11- and 15-year-old sons. Both she and her husband are now unemployed due to COVID-19. Other than her sons receiving free lunch at school, they have never needed assistance before. But her situation changed after losing her job and receiving an unexpected medical bill after her younger son had a bike accident.

“Hopefully this is just a one-time thing, and we can get back on our feet,” says Maria. “It’s hard because we were both working, and we felt like other people need it, not us. But it’s coming to the point where we are needing it, too.” Including all of the mobile pantries and Partner Agencies, the Food Bank served about 112,000 households in August, an increase of nearly 85% since before the COVID-19 crisis. Like Maria’s, more than 17,000 of those households were using our services for the first time.

Toney Burger Activity Center and Stadium

3200 Jones Rd, Austin, TX 78745





Map made for a mass distribution at Toney Burger Center

Fall Home Gardening Tip from our Garden Manager, Greg Mast


30 minutes 0 minutes 1 cup 11

INGREDIENTS DRESSING: ½ cup fresh lemon juice ¼ cup olive oil 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons minced shallot 3 small garlic cloves, finely grated ½ teaspoon sea salt ½ teaspoon black pepper SALAD: 2 bunches Tuscan kale, center stems discarded, leaves sliced thinly 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded ⅓ cup almonds with skins, toasted and coarsely chopped 1 cup grated Pecorino, Parmesan or Romano cheese

Fall is almost here and temperatures are finally cooling off a bit, which means it’s time to start getting your vegetable garden ready for what is actually our peak growing season in Central Texas. The autumn months are a great time to grow here because the soil is warm enough for seeds to sprout, but daytime temperatures are no longer as extreme. October and November are good times to plant root vegetables like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips. Leafy greens like kale, lettuce, Swiss chard or spinach are also great options. If this is your first time growing vegetables, the number one piece of advice I can offer is to start small. A small, well-maintained space will be more productive than a big, weedy mess, and you will be less likely to get overwhelmed and lose motivation. Even a small container garden can grow a surprising amount of salad greens in a short amount of time. One of my favorite fall crops is daikon radish. These fast growing root crops are much milder than the red salad radishes we generally see in the store, and grow up to a foot long and several inches round. I enjoy them cut into cubes and roasted in the oven with a little salt and olive oil. You can eat the greens, too. Just tear them up and sauté or steam until soft.


PREPARATION 1. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mason jar. Shake vigorously until combined; set aside to let flavors meld. 2. Mix the thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. 3. Add the dressing, cheese and almonds to the Brussels sprouts and kale mixture and toss to coat. Find more recipes online at

Dear Friend, In more than a decade at the Central Texas Food Bank I’ve seen us rise to the challenge during many emergencies, but nothing like the COVID-19 crisis. This has truly been the hardest thing we have been through, but I could not be more proud of my colleagues and what we have been able to accomplish. Over the past seven months, we have had to alter everything we do in order to keep clients, volunteers and staff safe while still meeting the needs of our community. Every team at the Central Texas Food Bank has had to pivot in the era of COVID-19. In this issue, we are highlighting the amazing work of two of those teams: the Child Hunger Strategy team and the Mobile Pantry team. You will read about how the Child Hunger Strategy team creates frozen meal kits to keep kids fed, no matter where they are spending their school day. The drive-through model developed by the Mobile Pantry team—and used by many of our partner agencies—is a safe way to distribute record amounts of food. May, June, and July were consecutive record-setting months: we distributed nearly 7 million pounds of food in July, and in August nearly matched that record with 6.6 million pounds of food distributed. We feel certain that the economic impacts of this pandemic will put more of our neighbors at risk of hunger in the coming months. We are adapting for the short term but facing the reality of a very long period of increased need for our services. I want to express my gratitude to you. Seeing first-hand how generous and caring Central Texans are when facing adversity has been a rare silver lining of this situation. We would not be in a position to tackle this problem head-on if not for your support. Thank you,

Keeping Kids Fed During COVID-19 This school year looks different than any other. While some students are physically back in school, many students are learning remotely. Most schools are making sure children who usually receive free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches still have access to those meals. But what about the third meal of the day? In a typical school year, that’s where the Central Texas Food Bank’s Kids Cafe® steps in, at after-school programs. And the Central Texas Food Bank Child Hunger Strategy team wants to continue that program, whether kids are at school in person or learning remotely. As the start of the school year approached, the team quickly revised their usual approach: they partnered with more than ten different sites to distribute weekly meal kits, each containing seven frozen suppers and snacks as well as backpacks full of healthy items for the weekend. The meal packs contain the children’s favorite meals, like nutritious versions of mac and cheese, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and even healthy desserts like apple crisps and peach cobblers. As Children’s Program Manager Megan Hall says, “the hot meals are the ones the kids like the most. There are re-heating instructions and they get the meals they like. The meals will stay food-safe because they are frozen. It required a ton of creative thinking from our team members, especially from the kitchen team. In the face of adversity, we have been able to innovate to serve families, especially the ones who are the most vulnerable.” All the meals are nutritionally balanced and the Nutrition Education team also includes activities and recipes that complement the weekly menus. This is a similar model to the one the Child Hunger Strategy team used over the summer to provide more than 83,000 meals to kids, even more than the previous year. The summer program was extended by two weeks to help cover the gap while the start of school was delayed for many.

Our Mission: To nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. A member of

Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer

6500 Metropolis Dr., Austin, TX 78744 | 512.220.2680 |

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