Houston Food Bank
During Thanksgiving week, we are donating a portion of our sales to the Houston Food Bank. Every $10 can provide our surrounding communities with thirty meals and we plan to feed as many people as possible. But how does the food bank work exactly?
A foodbank is a non-profit organization that collects and distributes food to hunger relief charities. Food usually comes from various sources in the food industry, like grocery stores and wholesalers, that have thousands of pounds of food to give away – food that could otherwise be thrown away. They warehouse the food, and with help from volunteers, sort, pack and redistribute it to the community. Traditionally, a food bank does not distribute food directly to those in need. Instead, they distribute the food to their partners who are in charge of serving it directly to those who need it. Partners like social services, churches, and schools.
The food itself comes from farmers, grocery stores and other retailers, distributors, wholesale, and other food industry sources. Additionally, members of the community hold food drives and donate tons, literally, of food. Much of the food that is distributed is fresh produce, dairy products, fresh meats, and other refrigerated and frozen products ensuring wholesome and nutritious meals are available to those in need. Financially, food banks rely on donations from generous individuals who open their hearts and checkbooks to help them achieve their mission of providing food for better lives. They do, however, also receive gifts from corporations and foundations, as well as public grants.
Food banks are all a part of Feeding America, a nationwide food bank network. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country that has been around for over 40 years.
The concept of food banking was developed by John van Hengel in Phoenix, AZ in the late 1960s. Van Hengel, a retired businessman, had been volunteering at a soup kitchen trying to find food to serve the hungry. One day, he met a desperate mother who regularly rummaged through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children. She suggested that there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, discarded food could be stored for people to pick up—similar to the way “banks” store money for future use. And with that, an industry was born. Van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ as the nation’s first food bank.
The concept caught national attention and after 18 city food banks had been established, Van Hengel established America’s Second Harvest the Nation’s Food Bank Network, later renamed to Feeding America.
Houston Food Bank
Houston’s foodbank is the largest Feeding America food bank in the nation and the 2015 Food Bank of the Year. In the fiscal year of 2019, it distributed 104 million nutritious meals through its network of 1,500 community partners, including food pantries, soup kitchens, social service providers, and schools in southeast Texas.
The Houston Food Bank has the ability to stretch a dollar through its partnerships with the food industry. In fact, for every dollar donated they are able to obtain and distribute $6 in food – enough for three meals. So while food donations are always important, they would benefit more from cash donations.
If you’d like to make a food donation, the Houston Food Bank is located on I-10 East, just inside 610 East Loop. If you have a few grocery bags or a few small boxes full of food that you’d like to drop off, then head to the lobby of the Houston Food Bank.
Lobby hours are Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
As for large-scale donations of food, they are received through the warehouse from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. Call 713-547-8643.
Take care, everyone, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We appreciate any and all contributions to our fundraiser.