Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fighting Hunger with a 3-Legged Stool

In the last week, Texans from across the private, non-profit and public sectors have worked feverishly to staunch the flood of need left by Hurricane Ike, creating a 3-legged stool of support under hungry families.

Private: In the business community, grocers like Kroger and Albertson's have begun offering discount emergency boxes to encourage individual donations, while the Chrysler Foundation sent a $200,000 donation to the Houston Food Bank. 

Non-profit: Texas Food Banks continue to offer food as fast as they can, aided by high-profile appeals from Governor Rick PerrySenator John Cornyn and TX House Speaker Tom Craddick

Volunteers, from everyday Austinites to NFL players are pitching in at these charities, but the food banks are stretched to their limits as they attempt to fill the gaps left by government services. Houston Food Bank CEO Brian Greene reported serving 150,000 meals on Tuesday, with no end in sight. "I'm standing here on our loading dock this morning looking at a line of volunteer vehicles and wondering how long we're going to be able to keep them going," he said. Likewise, the Tarrant Area Food Bank is experiencing alarming shortfalls as a result of its relief efforts.

Public: Texas' public servants recognize the value of federal aid in a crisis, and last week received permission from USDA to offer emergency food stamps to disaster victims. Since then, food stamp offices statewide have been swamped by applicants, jamming the state's 211 network, creating lines hundreds deep in both Houston and Galveston, and generating 1000s of new applications from evacuees as far away as Jasper and Brownwood.

While each leg of the stool is finding itself stretched to breaking, thousands are now receiving help - a feat that no one sector could accomplish on its own.

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