Disney-Inspired Lunch by Chef Bull Kicks Off Summer Meals Program

July 12th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

In the final scenes of the Disney movie Ratatouille, food critic Anton Ego understands Chef Gusteau’s motto “anyone can cook.” Not everyone has great talent, but great talent can come from anywhere. The movie and its signature dish served as inspiration for Chef David Bull’s special lunch for 100 children participating in the Summer Food Service Program kickoff held on June 26 at Partner Agency El Buen Samaritano.

We know that hunger robs children of their natural potential. The 20,000 children who rely on the Capital Area Food Bank’s services each week deserve the opportunity to be the best they can be. We’re here to invest in our children’s potential and nourish them with healthy summer meals while school is out, and free and reduced-price lunches are not available.

There’s a critical need for nutritional services for Central Texas children during the summer months. In Austin ISD, 2 out of 3 children receive free or reduced-price lunch. Unfortunately, federal nutrition programs in Texas fall short of the need, only reaching 1 in 9 eligible children.

As part of the Summer Meals That Matter campaign to raise 500,000 meals this summer, special guests from the community joined us to raise awareness about the need for programs like the Summer Food Service Program, and to show children in the community that Central Texas leaders care about their nutritional health. Now in our fourth year, the Food Bank hosts 56 Summer Food Service Program sites. The Food Bank will distribute close to 50,000 meals this summer through the Summer Food Service Program over the 10-week summer – a 20 percent increase in meals served over last year.

Children ages 18 and under can receive free lunches and snacks in Central Texas all summer long. To find a site near you visit squaremeals.org or call 877-TEX-MEAL.

Thank you to Chef Bull and his staff at Second Bar + Kitchen  restaurant for their continued support and to our special guest servers:

Charles Mead, Capitol Area Council Boy Scouts;
Sandra Araujo, Latino 102.7;
Betty Chowell, Latino 102.7;
Deborah Durham, St. David’s Foundation;
Christy Denman, Texas Department of Agriculture;
Crystal Lloyd, Texas Department of Agriculture;
Karla Leal, Telemundo;
Comm. Margaret Gomez, Travis County; and
Rich Segal, YNN Austin.

Summertime Ratatouille with Slow Poached Egg and Pasta Parmesan

Serves 4

4 cups                                   Ratatouille (recipe to follow)

4 each                                   Slow Poached Eggs (recipe to follow)

2 cups                                   Pasta Parmesan (recipe to follow)

Basil Leaves for garnish

For the assembly:

Place the pasta Parmesan in the center of a large bowl.  Place a large spoonful of the ratatouille in the center of the pasta forming a nest to hold the egg.  Place the poached egg into the center of the ratatouille and garnish the dish with fresh whole leaves of basil.

For the Ratatouille:

1 cup                                     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 each                                   Eggplant, small diced

1 each                                   Zucchini, small diced

1 each                                   Yellow Squash, small diced

6 each                                   Garlic Cloves, smashed

½ bunch                               Basil, stems removed and reserved,

Basil, leaves chiffonade and reserved

2 cups                                   Tomato Juice

1 teaspoon                         Saffron

4 each                                   Roma Tomatoes, concasse, small diced

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large sauce pot add half of the olive oil over medium heat.  Add ½ of the garlic cloves and ½ of the basil stems.   Add the eggplant, season with salt and pepper and pan roast until golden brown.  Remove eggplant from the pan and reserve.  Using the same pan repeat the process with the remaining olive oil, basil, zucchini and yellow squash.  Combine the squash with the eggplant and reserve away from the heat.  In the same sauce pan add the tomato juice and saffron.  Reduce this liquid to one cup over medium heat.  Once reduced add the tomato concasse then the squash mixture back to the sauce and cook for 2-4 minutes constantly stirring.  Add the chiffonade basil and remove from heat.  Season the ratatouille again with salt and pepper to taste if necessary and chill completely.

For the Slow Poached Egg:

4 each                                   Locally Farmed Fresh Eggs

Water as needed

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat a water bath using an emersion circulator or thermometer to exactly 62.3 degrees Celsius.  Place the eggs in there shell into a water bath and cook for exactly 35 minutes.  Remove the eggs and place them back into their egg cartons and reserve.  For the assembly place the eggs back into the water bath for 8 minutes or until warmed through.  Crack the eggs into a glass bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Reserve warm for assembly.

For the Pasta Parmesan:

1 pound                               Parpadelle Pasta

Water as needed

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons                    Parmesan Cheese

In a large stock pot over high heat bring 1 ½ gallons of water to a boil.  Add the parpadelle pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.  Place the pasta into a boil with ¼ cup of the cooking water and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt to taste and reserve hot for assembly.

Turn Hungry Holidays into Happy Holidays for Vanyshia and Janancy

December 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Janancy and Vanyshia

Throughout the holiday season, we’ll feature families supported and nourished by your gifts. A special thank you goes to Vanyshia and Janancy who agreed to share her personal story with us. If you would like to help her family and others like her, please consider making a financial gift online.

Vanysha and Janancy are both 11 years old and became good friends when they met at the Boys and Girls Club at Bedicheck Middle School. “Boys and Girls Club saved my life because I met Vanysha,” says Janancy.

Janancy shared that even with her stepdad out of work right now, her family has enough to eat. However, Vanyshia’s family struggles to put food on the table and it makes her feel sad.

Vanyshia, who lives with her grandmother, brother and sister, says that sometimes she is not able to eat at home after Kids Cafe. “My Grandmother, she doesn’t get any food stamps anymore. The office wouldn’t give her more. So we have to go to my Mom’s house and use her card. We can’t have any milk or stuff like that. We can get canned food because it doesn’t cost as much.”

At the end of the month, Vanyshia says there are times when no one in her house is able to eat. “Sometimes at the end of the month…sometimes I don’t eat. One night my Grandmother cooked, but I didn’t eat the next night,” says Vanyshia.

Vanyshia tells about the sacrifices her Grandmother makes so that she and her siblings can eat. “Sometimes my Grandma can’t even eat because she has to feed me and my brother and sister. Sometimes I don’t eat as much as I want to because I leave some for my Grandma because I don’t want her to sit there and starve. Sometimes she doesn’t have enough money to buy food, so she has to go to the bank and borrow money. It makes me feel sad. I don’t want her to be hungry. I just feel sad sometimes,” says Vanyshia.

Your financial gift makes it possible for children to not feel guilty about eating enough food so that other family members can eat. Help turn hungry holidays into happy holidays by sharing this story and making a gift today.

For Every Three Central Texans Living in Poverty One is a Child

November 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Have you ever felt the pangs of hunger? It’s not pleasant. Just ask Tiffany. “I frequently go without food. I feed my children first and go without,” says Tiffany. She continued “my children understand the sacrifice I make. They thank me everyday. I don’t have a job right now, and my husband doesn’t pay child support for our five children.” Her children are between the ages of 12 and 18. “It’s extremely difficult being a single mother. It’s a struggle living every day,” says Tiffany.

Tiffany is not alone. In 2010 more than 4.4 million Texans, including more than 398,000 in the Capital Area Food Bank’s 21 county service territory, lived in poverty. More than 138,000 of those are children – comprising about 35% of all the poor in Central Texas. To put their situation into perspective, for a family of six living in poverty like Tiffany’s, means they make less than $29,990 per year in gross income. Both Travis and Williamson counties experienced significant increases in individuals living in poverty from last year – 2.8% and 2.4% respectively. While across the nation, poverty increased 1% from 2009.

Use the interactive map to view the number of children living in poverty in each of our 21 Central Texas counties. Click on individual counties to view more data about each county including total poverty, percentage in poverty and median household income.

“Finding a job would make my situation less stressful,” explains Tiffany. “I’ve been looking and I’m trying to get my older children to find a job. I actually don’t know how I’m going to pay my light bill at the end of the week—not to mention my rent.”

“Food pantries are very important because there are a lot of hungry people right now. It’s important for us to come together and help one another,” she says. “This food pantry has helped me out a great deal. They never turn anyone away.” Tiffany hopes her children have a bright future. “I want my children to graduate, find a good job and do better than their mother.”

School’s in Session and Arrianna is Hungry To Learn

August 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Arrianna is in third grade at Travis Heights Elementary school. “My favorite subject is science because we get to do experiments,” says Arrianna. At school, Arrianna receives free breakfast and lunch and her favorite things to eat are spaghetti, macaroni and fish sticks. “Sometimes I don’t have any food at home and I feel hungry. I usually eat whatever’s left. I feel bad when I’m hungry,” says Arrianna.

Arrianna lives with her father, stepmother and three siblings. She says her father lost his job and it has been a long time since he has been out of work.

Across Texas, children are starting their first day of school and already children like Arrianna are at a disadvantage before they put pencil to paper.

The recently released 2011 National Kids Count Data Book reveals Texas ranks among the worst states in child well-being with a 35th place ranking. The study also indicates that one in four Texas children live in poverty – a 9 percent increase since 2000 and 41st worst in the country. Nearly half of all Texas children live at 200% below poverty (less than $44,700 for a family of four).

Many studies link child poverty with educational achievement gaps exacerbated by poor diet and health. A hungry child doesn’t learn as well, and can be a disruption in the classroom.

Behind a lack of school supplies and discipline, hunger is ranked as the third biggest problem teachers face in the classroom. As a result, teachers are increasingly taking matters into their own hands by adding the role of “hunger relief resource” to their duties. A survey of K-8 public school teachers nationwide by Share Our Strength shows that four in ten teachers are spending an average of $25 per month for extra food in the classroom because their students are coming to school hungry.

However, there are some great programs across the country making great strides to improve child nutrition in the school environment.

Results of pilot programs in the city of Milwaukee, statewide in Maryland and elsewhere show that serving breakfast in class results in less tardiness, less disruptive behavior and fewer visits to the nurse. With the help of the Texas Hunger Initiative, Breakfast In the Classroom (BIC) programs are making their way across Texas.

In Michigan, the Community Eligibility Option pilot program provides free lunch to all students regardless of income, removing any stigma and ensuring school lunch has the same equitable access as the school textbook. We look forward to the results of this four-year study.

Child hunger and poverty needs to be priority, so children like Arrianna can fulfill their potential and have a successful education. Children will have greater chances for academic achievement, graduation, and higher education when they don’t have to worry about their next meal. The investment is needed and the payoff is real.

A recent report titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” (.pdf) reveals that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.

“I wish that I was rich so that when we don’t have anything else to eat and we don’t have enough money, then we could buy something…I also wish I had a puppy and another sister,” giggles Arrianna.

We can’t make puppies or little sisters, but we should be able to provide Arrianna with bigger dreams than having enough to eat.

Real Stories: Melinda nourishes more children this summer, but it’s tough.

June 13th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

“I have three little ones and it’s the end of the month for food stamps, so food gets low at this time,” says Melinda of Goldthwaite, Texas. Melinda and her children wait in line at CAFB’s “Wheels of Sharing” Mobile Food Pantry distribution in Goldthwaite.

Melinda has her hands full as a full-time mom to her 9-month-old, 4-year-old and 6-year-old children. To make ends meet, Melinda’s husband in construction. “It’s kind of slow, when it rains he doesn’t work; I think he got a $60 paycheck last week,” she said.

As Melinda picks her selection of fresh produce and pantry staples at the Mobile Food Pantry, she shares her experience: “The selection here is really great. I haven’t really gotten anything I don’t like. When you don’t have nothing, you’re happy with what you get.”

Melinda moved from her hometown of Mullin six years ago, to Goldthwaite, a small city with population of 1,878. The nearest low-cost supermarket is in Brownwood, a 34-mile drive out of town.  “I have to get my groceries here in town, but they’re more expensive than at Walmart, but I can’t afford the gas to go out of town,” she said.

Her family has plans in place for a better financial future. Her husband is studying full-time to become a nurse. “My husband starts his clinicals next year,” says Melinda.  “He’s going to school full-time and he works all day in the sun. He’s worn out. It wouldn’t be worth me working [because] I wouldn’t even make enough to pay for child care. We try to make do with what we have.”

Now that school is out, Melinda worries about feeding the children in her care.  The nearest Summer Food Service Program site where children can access free meals during the summer is also in Brownwood – a drive that Melinda says is too expensive for her to make on a daily basis.

“It’s going to be a lot harder in the summer because I take care of my niece and nephew also. My sister-in-law is a single mom and she’s pregnant again, so I don’t ask for money, but I will have to feed all the kids. It’s three extra kids this summer because my daughter will be home from school, too. It’s just tough,” she says.

Real Stories: A food pantry supports Samantha’s long road to stability.

May 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


Samantha is 17 and homeless. “I’m here today to find some food and bring it back to my camp.” Samantha lives with her fiancé, David, and two other friends in a homeless camp in Austin.

“I’ve been homeless for ten weeks. My mother drove me here from San Antonio because my father kicked me out. I didn’t tell her that we had no where to live because I knew she wouldn’t bring me,” says Samantha. She has been in-and-out of foster homes and has been through many difficult family situations.

Samantha has diabetes and is five months pregnant. She says that she always has access to food because of places like Father Joe’s House, a food pantry at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church in South Austin.

She says it’s sometimes difficult to find the nutritious food she needs to control her diabetes and support her baby. “Fresh produce is expensive. I haven’t really had any since I have been here,” says Samantha. “I have to make the choice between a small amount of fresh produce and a cheeseburger. They are the same price but the cheeseburger will fill me up for longer,” she says.


Samantha and her fiancé are working on getting their identification cards in order to apply for jobs. “I hope to work in child-care or be a veterinarian someday. I love animals,” she says. She has not yet finished high school, but hopes to attend a program so she can receive her GED.

“I am nervous about becoming a mom, but I hope to get a job and an apartment within the next few months so that we can better raise our daughter.”

Real Stories: Lana attends Kids Cafe and dreams of being a singer

May 9th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Lana attends the Kids Cafe at the South Austin Boys and Girls Club. “My dad works out of town, and now my mom works late, and my Uncle lives with my grandma, so, I usually stay here at the Boys and Girls Club,” says Lana.

Lana says that there isn’t always food at her house. “We almost have no food, but sometimes we can get some from the store or we spend the night at people’s houses—our aunt’s house or our cousin’s house,” she says.

When Lana grows up she wants to be a singer. “Did you even see my shirt?” she asks as she shows off her hot pink Hannah Montana t-shirt. “She’s my very favorite!” she says with a smile.

Real Stories: Ten year old Jose stays active to prevent thinking about hunger.

May 2nd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Jose is 10 and in 5th grade. He attends the East Austin Boys and Girls Club afterschool program. Jose has a big family. He lives with his grandparents, uncles, mother and three siblings.


“Sometimes we don’t have that much food. I just play some board games or I sleep, or do something active so I don’t think about it. We’re just trying to get the family to keep on going.”


Jose says that his uncles and grandpa work in construction, his mother works from home, and his 15-year-old brother, David, rides his bike around the neighborhood looking for work.


He says that he looks up to his Uncle Tony who is teaching him how to fix things around the house.

Real Stories: When food stamps run out, Marchell faces hunger.

April 11th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Marchell is in 7th grade at Bedichek Middle School where she attends the Kids Cafe afterschool meal program at the South Austin Boys and Girls Club. Neither of Marchell’s parents work right now, and she says that the meal she receives at Kids Cafe is her dinner for the evening.

“Mostly, at the end of the month, we run out of food. We are on food stamps, but they don’t really help that much. Food cost is going up, so it just doesn’t help,” says Marchell.

“At the end of the month we just have to hold off. I feel hungry, but I can’t do anything about it,” explains Marchell.

Marchell wants to be a veterinarian or a teacher. “I’m smart and always get my homework in before class is even over, but I also have my cool side.” She says that she loves to sing and looks up to the singer, Selena. “She was so beautiful and I love her songs. I know them all by heart!”

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