Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Run On Your (Food) Bank

Think your stocks are taking a beating this year? Before drowning your sorrows in gravy and stuffing, consider the financial straits facing your local food bank. 

National press are noting growing lines and diminished supplies at food banks everywhere - and Texas is no outlier. Judging from recent comments in the Texas media, we may have it even worse: 

“Everybody that I am talking to is saying the numbers are growing and the needs are growing. ” - San Antonio

"We're seeing increased demands for our food in a way we've never seen it." - Tyler

"We've had people come in so hungry that we've had to feed them right here before they get their food." - Abilene

"Not only are we seeing more people come, but it is a higher income level of people, than it used to be." - Midland

"People are getting laid off, and they're asking for food baskets." - El Paso

"Between 33 and 40 percent of our families have been new. They have not sought services from us before." - Dallas 

"We're within about 30 families of saying 'Sorry, we can't help you." - Fort Worth

"We haven't seen as hard of times as we appear to be headed toward [...] we're a little scared about that." - Dallas

"The charitable community has to make sure we operate very efficiently to get through these times. Hopefully people don't forget there are others in greater need." - Houston

"The need is huge this year." - Odessa

"Our peak days are still coming up." - Fort Worth

What's it like near you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Partnerships for the "New" Hungry

Noting the unique challenges faced by the Texas anti-hunger community, two major corporations revealed new partnerships in the state last week.

In Houston, Kroger, Inc. described a new strategy to support the victims of Hurricane Ike. The supermarket giant has agreed to sell $1.5 million of staple foods "at cost" to a partnership formed by the national groups Feeding America and the Salvation Army, each of which will contribute half the necessary funds. The food will be processed and distributed locally by Texas food banks, who received notable attention for their efficient response to Ike in September.

In San Antonio, the San Antonio Food Bank announced it was one of the first food banks to receive a state-of-the-art "mobile pantry" funded by Kraft Foods, Inc. The mobile pantry concept, which is being funded by Kraft at $4.5 million nationally, allows food banks to distribute food in places with little infrastructure, often in rural or hard-to-reach areas. 

"The face of hunger in America is changing," explained Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dallas Hungry, Charities Brace for Hard Winter

Charities in Dallas are seeing fewer holiday donations just as demand for their services is peaking, according to the Dallas Morning News

"It's kind of an eerie situation: We see increased demand for services, but we've seen it all year," said Larry James,  president of Central Dallas Ministries.

Food pantries across the city report being "swamped" by new clients faced with home foreclosures and lost jobs. The North Texas Food Bank, which supplies most of these agencies, estimates that it has experienced at least a 25% increase in demand for food over the last six months. 

One client, Luby's cafeteria worker Kathy Wilson, says her paychecks just aren't keeping pace with the cost of living. "Everything's going up," she said. "It's really hard out there."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Struggling in the Valley

Despite possessing a basically flat geography, Texas' Rio Grande Valley was named by realtors who hoped to draw newly prosperous, working-class families to land and weather reminiscent of Southern California.

Today, Texas' version of "the Valley" is one of the poorest regions in the United States - despite the fact that a majority of its residents remain working-class. 

One such resident, Nancy Martinez, is a shrimp-packer and mother of two who has been forced to use food stamps to make ends meet. She is one of a growing number of working families hit by rising food and fuel prices. 

"A year ago, it wasn't like this,'' Martinez told The Monitor while waiting to re-apply for the benefit. "It's not just the familiar faces now,'' she said, looking across the waiting room.