They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and unfortunately that also applies to the food insecurity crisis. As one of the largest states in the nation, it’s no surprise that Texas has a sizable populationstruggling with hunger. Thankfully, for almost 40 years theNorth Texas Food Bank has been helping residents in the Lone Star State, and we are proud to work with them as an impact partner in our mission to end this crisis.
Making a Difference in North Texas
Founded in 1982, the non-profit North Texas Food Bank is a certified member of the Feeding America Food Bank Network. (Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States.) Through a network of more than 200 partner agencies, NTFB serves hundreds of thousands of people each year in a 13-county service area, including Dallas, Denton, Collin, Fannin, Rockwall, Hunt, Grayson, Kaufman, Ellis, Navarro, Lamar, Delta, and Hopkins.
In fiscal year 2020, NTFB provided 96.9 million nutritious meals and distributed more than 34 million pounds of fresh produce. During October, November, and December 2020 alone they were distributing a massive 11 million pounds of food each month!
Like most food banks, NTFB distributes donated and purchased non-perishable items like canned fruits and vegetables, canned tuna fish, peanut butter, pasta, shelf-stable milk, etc. But they also go a step further and provide fresh produce and frozen proteins, including frozen beef and chicken, and turkeys or hams during the holidays. “Those items tend to be more expensive items and more difficult for those that we’re serving to afford,” says Ashley VandenBush, corporate giving account manager for NTFB. “So we want to make sure that we’re not only providing items that last a long time but still meet that nutritional need, but we’re also providing fresh produce and things that are important for overall health and well-being.”
Fighting Food Insecurity Head On
NTFB’s extensive network includes local food pantries, community centers, churches, and schools. “We have about 250 feeding sites that we work with,” VandenBush says. “We have a whole team dedicated to assisting those agencies and understanding what their ZIP code needs based on the demographics that they’re serving. [Our partners] have their boots on the ground, so we want to hear from them.”
In addition to their local partners, NTFB also has its own distribution facility in Plano and mobile pantries. “These are food trucks that go out into the community and ZIP codes that we know are high need but have low access, what we call food deserts,” VandenBush adds.
North Texas Food Bank does more than just distribute food. They also help clients navigate the often complicated procedures to access benefits from theSupplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and they work to raise awareness in local communities and with the government about the scale and urgency of the food insecurity crisis.
Meeting the Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic
And like most organizations working on the front lines, NTFB has faced enormous challenges during the COVID-19 crisis as people lost their jobs and struggled to put food on the table. “The numbers were astronomical,” VandenBush recalls of the first wave of the pandemic. “It was very difficult to see those long lines. What really impacted us the most was having to alter our operation overnight, having to go from this client-choice to model at food pantries that we were operating with our volunteers, to a drive-through model where everything is in a box.”
As the coronavirus crisis continues, issues with hunger are being amplified. To keep up with the demand, NTFB relies on donations — both monetary and food. “The best way you can help to learn more about the food bank and tojump in,” VandenBush suggests. “That could be donating — every dollar provides three meals, so we are really able to make those dollars work and stretch for us. Funding is really critical for us right now as government programs that we rely on for extra food are starting to wane and expire. So we are going to need to make up that gap and purchase more food.”
You can alsovolunteer your time if you live in the area, and they have anAmazon wish list if you’d like to donate non-perishable goods. As one of Nunbelievable’s impact partners, NTFB also benefits directly from your purchases of our delicious, wholesome soft cookies: We donate one meal for every cookie you buy (both individual cookie boxes and subscriptions boxes).
Anything you can do to help would be most appreciated — you will definitely be making a difference. “It’s such a blessing that a place can give a family food for a week,” says one of NTFB’s clients who has been served by a partner food pantry. “I don’t know what would have happened if they weren’t there.”