Sustainers Circle - Summer 2021

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An exclusive newsletter for our Sustainers Circle

What’s INSIDE Donor Spotlight Summer Home Gardening Tip Kids in the Kitchen

Summer 2021

Donor Spotlight: Sherry Rivard Brockette Sherry Rivard Brockette with her children, Jeremy and Rebecca, at the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin Sherry Rivard Brockette has a passion for sharing her story and inspiring others. She says sometimes it’s hard to believe that she started life as someone who needed the help of a food bank and now is able to give back in a significant way as a corporate executive. Sherry says that she would not be the woman she is today if it were not for hardships she experienced along the way. As Sherry relates, “there were multiple forks in the road. There were multiple intersections. Did I always make the right choice? No. Did I have to fall down and pick myself up? Yeah.”

meet as a bartender. But much of that was hidden from Sherry. “I never missed anything,” Sherry says. “I didn’t know we were poor. I knew I didn’t have as many clothes as everybody else...I had four shirts, but I was ok.” Sherry and her mother constantly faced hunger and even buying a pizza was a stretch. “At the end of the month, she would bounce a check to buy us a pizza,” she recalls. “Because she would make noodles for seven days straight. And that was a treat. She was willing to take that hit to get something out of the box. To change it up.”

Sherry Rivard Brockette as a senior in high school with son Jeremy (about 4 months old) in Fergus Falls, MN

At the age of 18, Sherry became a single mom, giving birth to her son Jeremy in the middle of her senior year of high school. Determined to live a different lifestyle, Sherry went to college while Jeremy was a baby. She was able to make it work through food and housing assistance, student loans, carrying a credit card balance, and about $200 a month of Social Security due to her father’s death. Sorority sisters at the college pitched in to babysit Jeremy. While not easy, Sherry graduated. It was the late ‘80s and there was a recession, but Sherry landed a job in the management trainee track at a bank. She found an apartment

It all started growing up in North Dakota. Sherry’s father died at a young age and her single mother, who only had an eighth grade education, struggled to make ends

“I know what it’s like to be hungry. I know what it’s like to worry about what you are going to feed your child.”


and moved to her new town only to learn that the position was eliminated due to budget cuts.

Sherry Rivard Brockette with son Jeremy after she graduated from college in Fargo, ND

While working three part-time jobs to make ends meet, Sherry went to a job fair and met representatives from Great Plains Software. She got the job and found herself in the middle of a cuttingedge business software company with ties to both Microsoft and Apple—even

meeting Steve Jobs while working there! That was 30 years ago, and that role paved the way to many career opportunities in the tech industry. Through her faith and perseverance, by the time she was 28, she was able to start giving to charities instead of needing help. She eventually owned her own business, had a daughter, got her master’s degree, and held executive positions at several other companies. Sherry has lived in Austin for more than a decade and is now an executive at Informatica. She gives to several organizations, but says she is especially drawn to the Central Texas Food Bank, “because I know what it’s like to be hungry. I know what it’s like to worry about what you are going to feed your child. I know what it’s like to feel ashamed. I was embarrassed to show up with my WIC vouchers. I was embarrassed to live in assisted living. I know what it’s like to be looked at differently because you’re getting daycare assistance…as if somehow, your child isn’t as special as the people that are paying. It’s horrible.”

AMARANTH LEAVES AND BLACK BEANS In addition to her financial support, Sherry recently joined our Volunteer Ambassador program, sharing her story and representing the Food Bank at events throughout Central Texas. “My hope is that my mistakes, my insights can make a difference in someone else’s life ultimately,” Sherry says. “Then it’s all worth it.”

Summer Home Gardening Tip

from our Garden Manager, Greg Mast


20 minutes 20 minutes 1 cup 9

INGREDIENTS 1 tbsp. of olive oil 3 cups of onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro 2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth 3 15oz cans of low sodium black beans 1 sprig of fresh epazote ½ pound of amaranth, stems removed PREPARATION 1. Heat a 5 quart pot to medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add cilantro and cook for another minute. 2. Stir in black beans and vegetable broth. Add the sprig of epazote and cook for 3-5 minutes.

As the weather gets hotter and hotter, many Central Texas gardeners find their springtime ambitions wilting just as fast as their plants under the scorching sun. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, because there are lots of hot weather vegetable crops you can grow. However, some of the easiest and most nutritious are not your common grocery store variety. So let’s take a closer look at one of my personal favorites: amaranth. Amaranth is related to spinach and quinoa, and is best known for its tiny edible seeds, but the leaves are also edible and just about the easiest garden vegetable you can find. You can buy bulk amaranth seed at natural foods stores, or look for seed packets at independent garden centers or online. You’re not likely to find it at a big box store though. The plants grow quickly, and are heat-, drought- and insect-resistant, and don’t have any major disease issues. The leaves taste a bit nutty and are great in enchiladas with black beans. Amaranth is a native crop with many wild relatives in our area which are also edible. So for an easy, fast growing hot weather leafy green, try growing some amaranth this year.


3. While beans are simmering, wash the amaranth leaves in two changes of water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and fill another bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, add the amaranth. Blanch for two minutes, and transfer to the ice water. Drain and squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely. 4. Once the beans are simmering, stir in the amaranth, simmer very gently for 5-10 minutes, and serve. Find more recipes online at

Dear Friend, I’m constantly impressed by the incredible support that you, our most dedicated donors, continue to provide. We are feeding more community members and distributing more food than ever before. Our response to this increase in demand for our services has only been possible because of your incredible generosity. We are now serving about 342,000 individuals every month, a 40 percent increase over what we saw prior to the pandemic, and our projections show that demand may not decrease to pre-pandemic levels until late 2022 or early 2023. Even before the pandemic, the level of hunger in our community was heartbreaking, with 1 in 7 adults and 1 in 5 children facing hunger. You are playing an important role in the fight against hunger—making vital programming possible. Each of you has an inspiring story and path that led you to the decision to give to the Central Texas Food Bank. For some of you, it was your own experience with hunger that has led you to give back. In this edition, we are highlighting one of our incredible donors who struggled with hunger throughout her early life and now gives back, as well as some of the important work happening in our garden and nutrition programs. Whatever the path that led you here, please know that your gifts are changing the lives of many of our neighbors struggling to keep food on the table.

Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer

Kids in the Kitchen Because hunger and health are deeply connected, the Central Texas Food Bank offers a series of bilingual nutrition education, cooking, and gardening classes. Your donations fund these hunger-fighting programs in addition to providing vital meals for families. These lessons teach individuals and families how to prepare easy, nutrient-dense meals from budget-friendly grocery items and foods typically supplied through the Food Bank. One popular virtual class is called “Kids in the Kitchen.” Young chefs, like the one featured in the photo above, learn about nutrition and kitchen skills while making healthy, kid-approved recipes. That class fits nicely with one of our newest programs, “Cooking from the Garden,” which pairs weekly boxes of fresh produce grown right here at the Food Bank with live virtual cooking and gardening lessons. Each week features a different seasonal produce item like radishes, arugula, or Swiss chard. Participants love trying new vegetables and learning how to grow them at home. Thank you for making special programs like these possible with your donations. To learn more about our nutrition education programs, visit

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 |

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