Employer’s Closure Leaves Residents Needing Food Assistance

October 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

 A Capital Area Food Bank of Texas mobile food pantry volunteer gives Vernetha food Oct.7 during a food distribution. Vernetha has sought food assistance from the Food Bank following Park Plaza Nursing Home's closure that left her unemployed.

A Capital Area Food Bank of Texas mobile food pantry volunteer gives Vernetha food Oct.7 during a food distribution. Vernetha has sought food assistance from the Food Bank following Park Plaza Nursing Home’s closure that left her unemployed.

After 30 years of caring for residents at Park Plaza Nursing home in Mart, TX, Betty was one of 68 employees laid-off following the facility’s bankruptcy this month.

“It’s been hard to have work there over 30 years, and then wake up one day, and not have a job,” Betty said. “It’s just a big shot.”

The Capital Area Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry was asked to supply more food for area residents of the small town of Mart that lost one of its largest employers.

Denise Rogers, the pastor of First United Methodist Church, said residents who worked for the nursing home went the last couple of weeks unpaid, leaving many without means to pay utilities, rent or even food.

Former Park Plaza employees are in the middle of filing for unemployment and applying for the little jobs left in Mart and have begun looking as far as Waco for employment.

“This has really affected people,” Rogers said. “But there are people who care, and that’s why we called the Capital Area Food Bank.”

The Capital Area Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry serves as an emergency response team, providing Central Texans with nutritious meals in rural communities. Last year, the Mobile Food Pantry provided 3.24 million pounds of food to more than 226,000 individuals.

Betty said she is having difficulty making ends meet as a sole provider for her 12-year-old son and 31-year-old autistic son.

“There was a lot of sitting and crying the first week, and then week two, I began looking for jobs,” Betty said. “But everything is different for me than when I was looking for jobs 30 years ago. Everything requires a resume and filling out applications on a computer.”

Imogene is also a 30-year employee with Park Plaza who turned to the Capital Area Food Bank mobile pantry for support.

“We never found out anything until the last minute,” Imogene said. “Things are hard, and I’m just trying to make ends meet for me and my husband, but the groceries help a lot.”

Imogene receives food assistance from the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas mobile food pantry Oct. 7 in Mart. Imogene was an employee of Park Plaza Nursing Home before it was shut down.

Imogene receives food assistance from the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas mobile food pantry Oct. 7 in Mart. Imogene was an employee of Park Plaza Nursing Home before it was shut down.

Rogers said the loss of Park Plaza nursing home has been hard on the entire community who turn to each other for assistance.

“It’s hard for the resident, employees and community as a whole,” Rogers said. At this point, we would need someone to take over that building, but a lot of changes need to be done, and that probably won’t happen any time soon.  All we can do is look for opportunities to help.


You Won’t Believe What These Pumpkins Will Do for Hunger

October 24th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

source: Wikipedia


In hopes of encouraging people to channel their inner artistic abilities, The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum will host its traditional pumpkin carving competition for the 10th year Sunday, October 26 from 12:00 P.M. – 4 P.M.

This is the second year the traditional competition will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank with a donation of three nonperishable food items for admission.  Last year, about 600 pounds of food was collected for Central Texans in need.

“We’re also a nonprofit and to give the Food Bank money is unrealistic,” said Diane Sikes, the director of programs at Umlauf. “But we if can use our talent to teach people how to sculpt and also give to the Food Bank, well, that just seems like a great partnership.”

H-E-B donates about 40 pumpkins which are distributed to participants who are competing for numerous prizes.

“It’s just a fun community event where kids and adults can carve pumpkins and participate in a silly round of judging,” Sikes said.

Texas Society of Sculptors member Marla Ripperda, commonly known as Professor Pumpkin, will be on site to give a live demonstration and provide carving tips. Participants are welcome to being their own sculpting tools or use ones provided by the sculpture garden.

“Professor Pumpkins’ skills are showing how to adapt your drawings to a round canvas,” Sikes said.

Sikes said sculptors of all ages will strive to design unique carvings which compete in several categories such as spookiest, most artistic and more.

“We want to be good neighbors, and a pumpkin sculpting competition seems like a nice way to give back,” Sikes said.

Registration is not required to participate. Admission is free with the donation of three healthy, nonperishable food items. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum is located at 605 Robert E. Lee Road. For more information about Umlauf Sculpture Garden, visit www.umlaufsculpture.org. For more information about the Capital Area Food Bank, visit www.austinfoodbank.org.


Deer Donation Season: 2014-15 Guide

October 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Got a buck or some doe to spare? Locally sourced, lean, protein is a scarce item on our shelves. Now that deer hunting season is underway, you can help change that. In Texas, you can shoot up to five deer a year. If you have a buck or some doe to spare, you’ll help us give many families a healthier alternative to ground beef by donating through the Hunters for the Hungry program. For as little as $30 to $50 for processing, you can help control the animal population, improve local habitats and put good meat to good use. Check out the Hunters for the Hungry site to find a deer processor near you. Are you new to hunting? Get the App. Get certified. Know the rules. Texas Parks and Wildlife offers a free app for iPhone, iPad or Android for all of your Texas hunting needs. It does not even require internet service to work on your device.

From their site:

  • Find hunting season dates and bag limits for your county
  • See seasons and bag limits for all game animals
  • Review means and methods restrictions
  • Find public hunting lands
  • Apply for drawn hunts for mule deer, bighorn and other game
  • See types of licenses, permits and stamps available
  • Find licensed retailers near you

Texas has specific rules about who can hunt, especially if you are under age or if you have not completed training. The way you can hunt for deer varies from county to county. Visit the site to find out the specific rules for your area. White-tailed Deer Season 2014-2015

  • Archery only: September 27 – October 21, 2014
  • General season: November 1, 2014 – January 4, 2015
  • Youth Only: October 25 – 26, 2014; January 5 – 18, 2014
  • Muzzleloader: January 5 – 18, 2015
  • Late Anterless and Spike: January 19 – February 1, 2015

About Hunters for the Hungry A program of Feeding Texas (formerly the Texas Food Bank Network), a 501c(3) charitable partner with the Capital Area Food Bank, the Hunters for the Hungry program organizes the donation of thousands of pounds of game to local pantries. For more information, please visit http://hfth.tfbn.org/.


Seven Ways Food Stamps Works for You and Us

October 21st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

We’ve learned quite a bit as a partner with the Texas Health and Human Services to provide food stamp outreach and support in the community. The sad truth is there are still many rumors and myths about food stamps, making it harder for families to afford to eat right. Whether you prefer to call it SNAP, food stamps or the Lone Star Card, let’s set the record straight.

  1. If you decide get food stamps, it doesn’t take away from other eligible folks who need food stamps too. Your participation doesn’t reduce how much in benefits are available to another family in need.
  2. It doesn’t have to be a long, painful process. We get it. Applying for benefits and trying to figure out how and when to enroll or re-enroll is about as exciting as doing your taxes (no offense to the accountants out there). That’s where we can help. It’s our job to know these forms, all the deductions you can take and the process like the back of our hand. Let us help you maximize the benefits you deserve to get. With a Food Bank expert by your side, we believe it will be worth your time.
  3. It’s not just for people who don’t have a job. All types of people from all walks of life receive benefits: children, seniors, the disabled, temporarily unemployed, the homeless and certain documented legal residents may all qualify. And that brings us to our next big myth.
  4. You can apply for your kids, without risking your application for legal residency. We understand it can be scary to ask for help when you’re not a legal resident. You can help your children born in the U.S. have a healthier future by applying for food stamps on their behalf. Applying does not hurt your chances for becoming a legal resident. Call us for a confidential consultation.
  5. You can own your home, have assets, a car and savings and still qualify for food stamps. There are some limits, which we can explain to you and help you with the application process. The point is that you don’t have to wait until you are down to your last penny and have sold everything before applying for food stamps.
  6. You don’t have to apply online or at an HHSC office. Technology makes life easier… for some people. But we’re not all the same. You can come to us, or we can come to you. We can do it by phone, and we can do it by email. Whether you need a little guidance and a few questions answered or help every step of the way, we’re here to support you.
  7. An extra $15 a month in your grocery budget can be much more than you think it is. While $15 is the minimum benefit you can receive each month if you qualify, most families we work with, even seniors, do receive more than that amount. But let’s say all you qualify for is $15 per month. Is it worth the hassle? Absolutely! First, with us by your side, it’ll be much easier to apply, and we can make sure you receive the maximum benefits you qualify for.Second, when you’re enrolled in the food stamp program you can also access other programs that can save you money. Get waivers and discounts on your Austin utility bill, get a free cell phone and double the dollar amount that you spend on fruits and vegetables at select farmers markets.Do you hate filling out long forms to enroll your kids in the free school lunch program? Thanks to direct certification, you won’t have to, and they’ll be automatically eligible if you’re eligible for food stamps.

When more eligible Central Texans receive food stamps, it makes a world of difference for us. We can serve more people who may need our food and services but do not qualify for the program. Take some time today to invest in your health by checking out this program. And, tell someone who may need help about what we can do.

Give us a call at 1-855-366-3401.


New Truck from Walmart Helps us say “Yes, please” to More Donations

October 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Every day, we provide a bridge between the abundance of healthy food Central Texas has to offer and our neighbors who don’t know where their next meal will come from. These days, we need to add more lanes to that bridge to keep up with the needs of those folks who struggle to put food on the table. Thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation, we now have a new refrigerated truck to help us rescue an estimated 2 million more pounds of surplus food each year, keeping it out of landfills and in the hands of those who need it.

Last year, we rescued 16 million pounds of food from going into the landfill, our highest yearly total to date. Still, we’re falling short of meeting the need for our neighbors.

Truck by truck, donation by donation, we’ll get there. With partners like Walmart by our side, we’ll be saying “yes, please” a whole lot more, and our planet will say “ahh, thank you.”


Capital Area Food Bank of Texas 101

October 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

If you ever wanted to know what we do and how we do it, your guides Hank Perret, president & CEO, and Chief Operations Officer Charlie Ward are here to explain in this video produced by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

If supply chain management, business management, programs management and other sorts of professional geekery are more your speed, then you’ll really enjoy this video.

A special thank you goes to Feeding Texas, formerly the Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN), for supporting this project.


Strengthening Our Commitment to Health with a Tobacco-Free Campus

October 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Tobacco-Free Sign

The Food Bank is deeply committed to improving the health of its community. Tobacco use on our campus doesn’t just affect our staff but also visitors and volunteers looking to become more engaged in our mission to nourish hungry people and lead the community in ending hunger. With 80 full-time staff and nearly 19,000 volunteers working with us each year, we have the opportunity to make a big impact.

We’re proud to announce that our campus is now tobacco-free, making us one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Central Texas to adopt such a policy.

What this means is all forms of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, are prohibited from being used in and around our facility. In partnership with the Seton Tobacco Education Resource center, we’re providing free tobacco education and cessation classes to help staff quit the habit and protect our community from exposure to second-hand smoke.

You can help your workplace get started on implementing a tobacco-free campus by downloading this toolkit from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more about the Seton Tobacco Education program here.


Four Ways You Made a Difference During Hunger Action Month

October 6th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Another Hunger Action Month has passed, and we can’t help being amazed at what you accomplished.

1. You helped us celebrate the launch of our 10×10 Campaign for a Hunger Free Community. In the coming months, you’ll hear a lot more about our effort to raise the remaining $10 million for a brand new facility and the infrastructure to meet the growing needs of Central Texas. We’re so glad you could be here with us at the start of this incredible journey.

2. You donated your time getting nutritious food ready to go out to folks who need it. All month long, you stepped up to help us ensure every donated food item we distribute is safe, healthy and the highest possible quality.


3. You raised your voices to bring media attention to hunger issues. You joined our letter writing campaign to fill the inboxes of newspapers across our 21-county service area. In your letters to the editor, you helped raise awareness of the many ways hunger touches every part of our community, and you inspired your neighbors to take action.


4. You helped spread the word all month long on social media. Every time you raise your voice, you create an opportunity for someone else to join the fight against hunger. As our numbers grow, so will our voices and our impact. Together we can build a future in which no one ever has to go hungry. Let’s keep the momentum going. Keep Hunger Action Month alive all year long.


Congregation Highlights Capital Area Food Bank During High Holy Days

October 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


In the Jewish community, the High Holy Days mark a time of reflection, repentance and re-connection.

To Congregation Beth Israel, the oldest Reform congregation in Austin, the High Holy Holidays are also a time to highlight a community organization.

Congregation Beth Israel’s youth group selected the Capital Area Food Bank as its beneficiary for the fifth consecutive year and is hosting a food drive through Saturday. Each year, the food drive ends on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting and repentance.

“The (Capital Area Food Bank) has the largest reach in Central Texas,” said Carly Cera, director of community engagement. “That is a large push behind selecting (the) organization.”

Cera said the food drive is a large draw for the congregation and everyone puts forth their best efforts to raise as much as possible.

In 2009, Congregation Beth Israel raised about 3,000 pounds of food and about $800. Donations have steadily increased annually, and last year the congregation raised about 1,270 pounds of food and more than $5,600.

“Last year we had bins that were massively overflowing to the point that it filled up the entire sanctuary with bags of food,” Cera said. “It’s getting to the point that people already expect (the food drive) and don’t need a reminder that it’s happening.”

While donation boxes are placed throughout the congregation, the majority of the collection happens on Yom Kippur, when congregation members are encouraged to donate what they would have eaten during their fasting to the Food Bank.

“We talk with our high schoolers, especially, how they’re pretty lucky even when they feel they don’t have things they want, because it’s not nearly as bad as it is for some people who don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal,” Cera said. “So, instead of not eating for a day, we have the added benefit of doing something for someone else.”

Donations can be made through Congregation Beth Israel’s youth group from 9:45 A.M. to 10:30 A.M. Saturday at the synagogue, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd. Monetary donations can also be made to the Capital Area Food Bank through Congregation Beth Israel’s website, www.bethisrael.org.


Our Nutrition Class Kids Do the Darndest Things

October 2nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


In two years teaching CHOICES classes for the Capital Area Food Bank, Nutrition Educator Mary Agnew has learned the art of reading an audience. She can tell right away when her material really lands and when it just misses the mark.

But even after teaching more than 240 classes, a group of students at Brookhollow Elementary School in Pflugerville proved Mary can still be surprised. At the end of a seven-week Power of Choice series, the second- and third-graders gave her a special sendoff that she’ll never forget.

The girls in the class performed a cheer they had created about the Food Bank, and then each student presented Mary with a handmade card thanking her for a wonderful class experience.

“This was definitely a first and I had to blink back a couple tears,” Mary said.

Kids aren’t known for their subtlety or guile. When they get put this much effort and creativity into a simple thank you, you know they’re taking away something valuable.





Ava learned about balancing protein, grains and fruit and about reading nutrition labels. She also now knows how to make an awesome fruit cup.


Even on days when her mom didn’t have to work, Amanda stayed for the after-school program just to attend Mary’s class.


Vivian learned the importance of choice in eating healthy and living a healthy, productive life.

To learn more about the CHOICES nutrition education program or to schedule a class, contact Bilingual Nutritionist Vivian Noriega at 512-684-2538 or vnoriega@austinfoodbank.org.