Hot Sauce Festival fans turn up the heat on the fight to end hunger

August 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Hot Sauce Fest 2014

If August in Central Texas just isn’t hot enough for you, you probably had a blast at the 24th annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival.

Thousands of people turned out to Fiesta Gardens on Sunday to enjoy live music and abuse their taste buds for a great cause. Your generosity and unyielding love of all things spicy helped us raise more than 39,000 meals and counting for Central Texans facing hunger.

Hot Sauce Fest 2014

Hot Sauce Fest 2014

Hot Sauce Fest 2014

Thank you to the Austin Chronicle for hosting this great festival that has benefited the Food Bank for more than two decades, and to our volunteers for making this event possible. And, of course, thank you to everyone who came out. Whether you donated food or cash, bought raffle tickets or merchandise, your support means we can be there for our neighbors when they need us most.

Couldn’t make it to the festival? Don’t worry. You can still make a difference by entering our Sizzlin’ Summer Raffle. Get tickets online now for your chance to win one of three sizzling hot prize packages valued at over $1,000 each. But hurry. Ticket sales end promptly at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday, August 31.

You can view the 2014 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival contest winners online here. Caution: the contents of this list are extremely hot.

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Austin businesses fight hunger with can-do spirit

August 26th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Austin CANville 2014Giving is its own reward, but the bragging rights are pretty cool too for the winners of Austin CANville 2014.

Our friends at BuildASign.com started this community-wide food drive in 2012, putting their own twist on Austin’s legacy of corporate giving.

Participating companies competed in three categories—small, medium-sized and large company—by constructing an Austin landmark entirely out of non-perishable canned food, all of which will be donated to the Food Bank. Each CANville company also made a financial donation to help Central Texans facing hunger.

You can view all of the structures on our CANville Pinterest board.

Thanks to BuildASign.com for leading CANville 2014 and to all the companies who competed: AQUILA Commercial, Blackbaud, BuildASign.com, Builder Homesite Inc., CLEAResult, DrillingInfo, Facebook, Keller Williams Realty, MapMyFitness, Offers.com, Outbound Engine, Rackspace, SailPoint, Samsung and uShip. Special thanks—and congratulations—go to this year’s winners.

Small Company: Offers.com “360 Pennybacker Bridge”

canville_offers

Medium-sized Company: Keller Williams Realty “Austin City Limits Music Festival Guitar”

ACL Music Fest Guitar

Large Company: Samsung “Samsung Austin SemiCANductor”

Samsung Austin SemiCANductor

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Five ways you can support a happier, healthier school year

August 25th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Some parents shed a tear, while others are breathing a sigh of relief this week as kids head back to school and into a welcome daily routine.

But for many of our clients with children, that relief is a little deeper. They know their children are going back to free or reduced-price school meals this week. They know they’ll have a break from the extra expenses like childcare, transportation and utilities that strain their grocery budgets during the summer.

With all the promise the new school year brings, we can’t forget the many who still struggle. Nearly 46,000 Central Texans—a third of them children—will need help from the Food Bank this week.

Support a hunger for learning, not a hunger for food, this school year with these five tips:

  1. Volunteer at the Food Bank. Right now, we’re in great need of volunteers to inspect and prepare food donations to be distributed to families facing hunger. We also need volunteers to help out at mobile food pantry sites, perform administrative tasks and assist with CHOICES nutrition classes. Learn about all our volunteer opportunities online here.
  1. Enjoy an event that benefits the Food Bank. More than 1,000 events support our efforts to end hunger in Central Texas each year. Learn about upcoming events here, and don’t forget to enter our Sizzlin’ Summer Raffle for a chance to win one of three prize packages valued at over $1,000 each.
  1. Donate food and funds. From cash to canned goods to fresh farm produce, every donation makes a difference.  We welcome financial donations in many forms, and our food donation programs help fight food waste as well as hunger.
  1. Support good choices. The Food Bank, more than 300 Partner Agencies in Central Texas and public programs like SNAP (food stamps) support families with food resources so they can make better choices at mealtime. Spread the word, and encourage your community to use these resources. After all, a well-fed community is a healthy community.
  1. Talk about hunger issues in your social networks—virtual and real life. Share your knowledge about hunger in Central Texas with your colleagues, congregation, professional group and friends. Remember, September is Hunger Action Month. Learn about the many ways you can take action and help spread the word at austinfoodbank.org/ham.
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How you helped us raise 1.5 million meals in 2 months.

August 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

smtm-logo

While children ate healthy lunches with neighborhood friends, seniors enjoyed fresh fruits of the season and families made plans for park picnics, your Food Bank was busy fundraising to make these experiences come true for Central Texans in need.

In two months, during our busiest time of the year, we raised 1.5 million meals, surpassing our goal of raising 1 million meals through the Summer Meals That Matter campaign. Our secret weapon: a caring community that makes solving hunger a priority.

We love living in Central Texas for the bounty our land provides and the passionate people who put great food at our fingertips. We also know that we’re not the only ones who feel this way. With a goal to put the foods we all love within everyone’s reach we shared our plan with community leaders, long time food bank supporters and many of you who are just learning about the hunger crisis in Central Texas. Here’s how you made this summer a success:

You put a face on our goal by telling your own story.

Vara

Thank you to Ms. B for sharing how she makes meals at our Summer Food Service Program sites more than a nutritious meal but a positive community experience. Thank you to Vara for generously sharing her inspiring story and help us bring everyone to the table.

You showed leadership by example.

SFSP Kickoff

Thank you to the Stumberg family who gave a $100,000 matching gift challenge which helped us ultimately exceed our goal.

Thank you to campaign sponsors Grainger, SolarWinds, Emulex, Rackspace and BMC Software for your generous donations.

You traveled far and wide to inform and inspire meaningful giving.

HEB-HEH

Thank you to H-E-B, KEYE-TV, Univision, Randalls, Logan’s Roadhouse, the Round Rock Express, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Charming Charlie, Austin Social Affair, GO TEXAN Restaurant participants and Taste of North Austin for inviting your customers and fans to give back.

Thank you to KEYE-TV, Univision and Randalls for sharing how Central Texans are donating to the campaign through their Food for Families drive. They showed how easy and fun it is to be a philanthropist.

You weren’t afraid to dress for optimum hunger fighting.

KAW 2014 005

Thank you to the Keep Austin Weird Fest for bringing together local celebrities to get a little wet to help end hunger. Thank you to the apron-clad community leaders who served children at the Summer Meals That Matter kickoff. And last, but certainly not least, thank you to the thousands of summer volunteers who sort and inspect donations and help us put only the safest donations out to our community. Without our volunteers to help get food out the door fast, we couldn’t ask the community to donate so many meals.

You came to the table in your own special way to make a healthier, stronger Central Texas. We appreciate your continued support.

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Giving and receiving: charity’s response to the new face of hunger

August 20th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Fredricksburg Food Pantry

The Hunger in America 2014 study released this week documents the vital role food banks and their partners play in supporting families that struggle to make ends meet. In a previous story we talked about the challenges Central Texans face in overcoming hunger. Today’s story comes from the other side of the hunger line: the nearly 300 Partner Agencies we work with to distribute food and services through more than 600 programs. These programs range from food pantries and soup kitchens to after-school meal programs, nutrition education programs and food stamp outreach.

With the support of Feeding America, we surveyed our agencies to learn more about what they’re experiencing on the front lines of hunger relief and to identify gaps in service and resources.

  • Two-thirds of our Partner Agencies saw an increase in client demand in the past year
  • Only a third of our Partner Agencies have adequate food to fulfill client needs
  • 81 percent of our Partner Agencies say that without support from us, their ability to serve clients would be in jeopardy.
  • One in four agencies reported that they had to cut back on services in the past year.

It’s incredible that our agencies are able to serve 46,000 clients each week. About 43 percent of our agencies operate without full-time staff. We are committed to matching our agencies’ dedication to meet the need with a variety of resources.

This past year we’ve awarded agencies expressing the will and capacity to provide more healthy, fresh foods with heavy equipment to keep it healthy and safe.

We’re also piloting a program to help Partner Agencies safely rescue food from grocery stores in their community. Participating agencies tell us they can now offer a better variety and more food to their clients. Here at the Food Bank, we’re seeing less strain on our fleet and more time (and fuel) to rescue food instead of delivering food to agencies many miles away. When we can help local grocers strengthen their relationships with our Partner Agencies, everyone benefits.

 

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Food bank grant program aims to close a gap in healthy food access.

August 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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Sharing the Harvest volunteers with their new three-door cooler.

The Food Bank and its Partner Agencies are united in the belief that anyone who needs food assistance should be able to receive help. To support our Partners in their service, the Capital Area Food Bank created a capacity building grant program to provide matching funds for the purchase of equipment to store fresh and frozen foods.  Partner Agency requests can range from a large industrial-sized walk in freezer and cooler to a smaller chest freezer.  The Food Bank awarded nearly $100,000 in capacity building grants to 27 Partner Agencies this year.

For our partners, new space for cold storage can mean more food and variety to offer their clients.

Walk-in at St Johns

Walk-in refrigerator/freezer at the now closed St. Johns Communty Food Center finds a new home at Love of Christ food pantry

 

The Love of Christ Food Pantry is honored to receive a donation from the Capital Area Food Bank.  Having the donated Kolpak unit will help us to provide more food for the hungry in the Temple area. Both the workers and the recipients of the Love of Christ Food Pantry thank you for your generosity.   I am overjoyed with the opportunity to help more people.  We are truly blessed.

- A. C. Blunt Director

 

This grant program helps the Food Bank close the gap between clients’ requests for more healthy fresh fruits vegetables meats and dairy and the Agency’s ability to afford to distribute these types of food safely. It also improves the Food Bank’s capacity to accept more fresh healthy foods donations.  In the last fiscal year the Food Bank rescued more than 13 million pounds of perishable food and the program continue to grow year after year.

 

 

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Who do you turn to if you can’t afford to eat each day?

August 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The new normal:  clients wait in line for food at a food pantry.

The new normal: clients wait in line for food at a food pantry.

For nearly 46,000 Central Texans each week, the fuel for a better day and brighter tomorrow starts with the Capital Area Food Bank. The recently released Hunger in America 2014 study provides a snapshot of what it means to make ends meet in Central Texas with the support of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas and the nearly 300 charitable partners we work with. We know from a previous Feeding America study that more than 1 in 6 Central Texans and nearly 1 in 4 Central Texas children is at risk of hunger. In this new study, we explore how well we are reaching this staggeringly large population, what brings them to our doorsteps and how best to tailor our services to meet the need. Hunger in America 2014 not only shows the face of hunger but also provides guidance on what we need to do about the hunger crisis facing our community.

This video by Feeding America provides a good overview of what type of data is available in the study.

Key Facts About Hunger Relief in Central Texas:

  • Data from the Hunger Study, plus our own internal data shows nearly 46,000 Central Texans across 21 counties rely on our services each week, one-third of whom are children.
  • The majority of our services reach families with a roof over their heads. 93 percent of Food Bank clients are NOT homeless.
  • Families are working but don’t make enough to make ends meet. Nearly two-thirds of our client households had at least one working adult at home in the last year.
  • Tough choices about basic needs are part of daily life: 80 percent of our clients had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care in the past year. Two-thirds had to choose between food and housing.
  • Our clients are ethnically diverse, split nearly evenly in thirds among white, African American and Hispanic populations.
  • Over 60 percent of our clients must rely on receiving food from us or one of our Partner Agencies as a part of their everyday food planning
  • Food stamp benefits fall short of their goal to prevent disrupted eating. For 88 percent of our clients receiving food stamps, benefits run out in three weeks or less each month.

For more details, about this study and other data about the hunger crisis in Central Texas, please visit our website.

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8 Smartphone Apps to Help You Reduce Waste and Save Money at the Grocery Store

August 12th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

World War I Era Poster, Committee of Public Safety, Department of Food Supply, South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA

World War I Era Poster, Committee of Public Safety, Department of Food Supply, South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA

Americans waste a shocking amount of food. In this 2014 USDA Food Waste Report 133 billion pounds of the 430 billion pounds of edible food produced went uneaten. This translates to about 1,249 calories per person per day going to the landfill when 50 million of our fellow Americans are struggling to afford to eat. Your Food Bank does its part to help keep food out of the trash and in the hands of those who need it by rescuing more than 13 million pound of perishable, nutritious food items from the food industry including supermarkets, farmers, distributors and manufacturers.

Central Texas Food Rescue

Local farmers including Johnson’s Backyard Garden donates healthy food to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Unfortunately, we can’t rescue food that is in your personal garbage bins. That’s where you come in.

When you waste less food at home, not only does it help the planet, but it helps all of us to get food in the right hands. Now there are smartphone apps to help you be part of the solution. Check out these apps below to learn how you can help end hunger, one emptier garbage bin at a time.

222 million tons

Inspired by the estimated amount of food that is wasted each year by industrialized nations, this app aims to do something about it by helping you make weekly meal plans with zero waste. App users simply select a meal plan and the number of people in the household and the app provides a custom shopping list and recipes. This free app is designed for iPad users.

Apples2Oranges

Figuring out how to calculate the best deal at the grocery store can get tricky when products have different serving sizes and unit measurements. The Apples2Oranges app helps you easily compare the cost of two items by converting the price per item or serving into equal measurements. You’ll shop smarter and save at the checkout. It’s free and available for the iPhone.

FridgePal

How many times have you come back from the grocery store only to realize that you just purchased a food item that you already have and will now probably expire before you eat them both? With FridgePal, you’ll be able to keep your pantry inventory in your pocket and right where you need it. Create and share shopping list with your favorite frugal foodie and search for recipes using a combo of ingredients. Fans rave that they end up throwing away less food because the app keeps them organized. It’s free and available for iPhone and iPad.

Leftover Swap

This app patches folks with leftovers with folks who need something to eat and fast. Share your leftover by snapping a picture with your phone and wait for someone to claim your meal. They post basic courtesy tips such as “don’t give away any food that you wouldn’t eat yourself” and encourage food recipients to handle food properly and use their street smarts. It’s free and available for iPhone. Android version is in development.

Love Food Hate Waste

When your leftovers can use a new life, check out the recipes and shopping tips with this app. Created with the intention of reducing food waste, this handy app will help you get the best bang for your buck on all of your upcoming grocery shopping. It’s free and available for both iPhone and Android.

StillTasty

When the sniff test leaves you a little uneasy, you may want to use the StillTasty app to help you figure out when to throw food away. Not only will you know how long you should keep your food but you’ll also get an alert notifying you when you should throw it away. This app is $1.99 and only available for iPhone.

Zipongo

If you want to eat healthier or need to stick to a special diet and you need a little help in finding the best prices at your local grocers, Zipongo can help. Using this app you can compare prices on healthy food items from major retailers including Target, Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and more. It’s free and available for both iPhone and Android.

Coming Soon: PareUp

PareUp matches retailers with extra food on their hands with consumers looking for a good deal. The app will be free for consumers and retailers. PareUp makes their money by taking a percentage of the sale price. According to this interview with the app creators Margaret Tung and Jason Cheng, food banks and other nonprofits may get their own version of the app to match them with retailers.

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For a surging population in Austin, making it work is increasingly hard work

August 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“There are just times when you’ve done everything you can, but you’ve used up all your resources, ” explains Christopher, a husband and father of two, as he picks up fresh fruits and vegetables and other staples at Abiding Love Church’s pantry.

“We made sure our rent was paid this month, but it left us with very little extra,” he says. Christopher is a freelance designer, but as the companies that used to contract with him have had to tighten their belts, so has he. His wife works full time, but their combined income, while caring for a child with special needs, simply isn’t enough.

Trading off between basic necessities never amounts to a winning proposition. For an increasing number of families, this is what it means when they call Austin home.

In a new Brookings report, which analyzes US census data, Austin has the eighth fastest growing poverty rate in the country. The study looks at census data and shows Austin’s poor population has grown by a staggering 82 percent.

The study further warns that by not addressing the growing poverty in suburban areas, these areas could become areas of concentrated poverty.  Families living in concentrated poverty areas have the odds stacked against them they try to overcome their financial struggles in neighborhoods that tend to be disproportionately subjected to pollution, underfunded schools and substandard recreation facilities. This is a warning Austin-area residents should take seriously since the area’s suburban poverty grew 143 percent, the second fastest in the nation and more than twice the national average.

Living in the Austin metro area on a poverty income means that a family of four must figure out how to make ends meet with $23,850 a year when it could cost $50,016 or more to cover the most basic needs such as housing, child care, insurance and transportation.

Cost of living in Austin MSA for a Family of Four. Source : www.familybudgets.org

Cost of living in Austin MSA for a Family of Four. Source : www.familybudgets.org

When other expenses mount up, the families we serve often skip meals or settle for cheaper, less nutritious foods to cope. We believe these are choices nobody in our community should have to make. With your help, the Food Bank supplies Partner Agencies like Abiding Love with the kinds of wholesome foods Christopher and his family need to stay healthy and active as they face new challenges together.

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Hunger loses when you play to win

August 7th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

Sizzlin' Summer Raffle

As Central Texas summers go, this year’s been downright mild. We hope you’ve enjoyed it, because your Food Bank is about to turn up the heat.

Enter our Sizzlin’ Summer Raffle for your chance to win one of three prize packages valued at over $1,000 each. Packages include sizzling hot prizes like an autographed football from University of Texas Head Football Coach Charlie Strong, gift cards to all your favorite Austin eateries, fine jewelry from Kendra Scott and Russell Korman, Fun Fun Fun Fest passes and much, much more.

As always, we’ll be selling tickets at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival on Sunday, August 24 at Fiesta Gardens. But if you can’t wait—and, with these prizes, we wouldn’t blame you—purchase your tickets online or in person at the Food Bank right now.

Tickets are just $5 each, or you can boost your chances and get five tickets for $20. Each $5 raffle ticket you buy provides $25 worth of nutritious food to Central Texas families facing hunger.

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