Real Story: From the eyes of a nine-year-old.

October 7th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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Alex, 9, is the youngest of five children.  She says she misses her oldest brother who is in Iraq. Her dad builds houses and her mom works at H-E-B.  In her spare time she says she likes to crochet, knit, and make scarves for her friends.

Alex takes the bus from Dawson Elementary to Kids Cafe at the Boys and Girls Club of South Austin five days a week. She says when she goes home after Kids Cafe, she doesn’t eat anything else.

What’s Alex’s favorite part of Kids Cafe? “Eating! And, if you don’t eat healthy, you won’t have enough energy!”

Kids Cafes are safe, nurturing places where neighborhood children can go after school and receive a hot dinner, as well as help with homework from caring individuals. Click here for more information.

Good times at the 2009 Hot Sauce Festival!

August 31st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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Thanks to everyone who joined us at this year’s Hot Sauce Festival including volunteers, vendors and festival go-ers. You helped raise $14,269 and 29,413 pounds of food for hungry Central Texans, nearly 8,000 pounds more than last year. Good salsa, good people, good times!

See more photos from the event.

A smokin'-hot time this Sunday!

August 28th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

19th Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Sunday, August 30
11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Waterloo Park (15th St. and Red River) 

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Enjoy local music and a heated hot sauce competition!  Make a cash donation or bring three healthy, non-perishable food items to benefit the Food Bank.

The Sizzling Raffle is Back!
Enter the Sizzling Raffle for a chance to win great prize packages valued up to $800 each!  Tickets are $1 each or 6 tickets for $5. 

Thank you, sponsors:  107.1 KGSR, Buffalo Billiards, Capital Metro, Champion Scion, H-E-B, Planet K, Silicon Laboratories, Sustainable Waves, Texas Culinary Academy and ZiegenBock.

Real Story: Karen Price loses her job and receives food assistance for the first time.

August 13th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Karen Price 3Karen Price recently lost her advertising job and is struggling to find employment. Besides losing her job, Karen also lost her health insurance and may be in danger of losing her car if she doesn’t find employment soon.

“This is rough!” she said. “I’m living month-to-month and I’m barely making it because I have a car payment, too. I’m $999 away. I cannot lose that car.”

Karen never visited a food pantry, until now. She hopes to receive food stamps (for the first time) and expects her benefit money to arrive soon. Until it does, she is grateful to get food from her local food pantry in south Austin. “I love the fresh foods you get, and I can stretch the hamburger meat for about a week, if I make spaghetti and tacos or hearty soups,” she said.

Can you relate to her story? Click here to find a list of Partner Agencies.

If You’ve ever Fallen off the Wagon, You Should Support the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act

August 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

LGLisa Goddard
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director

Pop quiz:  According to current USDA regulations, what is a junk food?

a) Doughnuts

b) Snack cakes

c) Fruitades/Fruit Drinks (with little fruit – not 100% juice)

d) Seltzer water

Answer:  D

Confused?  You’re not alone.  USDA sets nutrition standards for foods sold at schools, but outside of school meals (such as vending machines, a la carte items and school stores) haven’t changed since the 1970s.  In fact, nutrition criteria for non-meal foods only apply to “foods of minimal nutritional value” and don’t address calories, saturated and trans-fats or sodium. So while little Suzie can’t get a breath mint with her onion-laden chili dog, she can get a side of fries and a candy bar.

junk food

Photo credit: shapingyouth.org

The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act (H.R. 1324), one of the many bills up for review in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, would update national school nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold outside of school meals to conform to current nutrition science.

So, how can this legislation help hungry Central Texas children?

By not using the same nutrition standards for junk food/non-food items as we do for the school lunch system, we undermine our investment in these nutrition programs.  Ultimately, the health of our children is undermined – especially low-income children.

States do have the option of exceeding USDA guidelines such as limiting access to competitive foods, or through stricter nutrition standards. Unfortunately, Texas has chosen to simply comply with USDA competitive food guidelines, leaving Texas children subject to these antiquated laws.

Why can’t we just focus on improving participation?

When school revenue is directly linked to the number of meals they serve, schools are forced to focus not on nutrition, but on pleasing the customer for maximum participation. In this School Lunch Talk interview, Leslie Phillips, business development director for Meriwhether Godsey, which runs the lunch program at Sidwell where President Obama’s girls attend school, explains how the retail model used by public schools makes it difficult for children to choose healthy, balanced meals.

If we are to address the problems food-insecure and hungry Texas children face during the school day and the life-long problems from poor nutrition, the answer isn’t to simply increase participation. We must also change incentives and nutrition standards so that profit doesn’t take precedence over nutrition.

If you’ve ever struggled with weight, or quitting cigarettes, or any other vice, you know how important a positive environment is for your success. Let’s make the lunchroom a place for positive experiential learning, where the most vulnerable children can make informed choices based on modern, scientific nutrition standards.

Take action: 
Support the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act by asking your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 1324. Click here to find your congressperson.

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Nutrition and School Related Bills Passed in the 81st Legislative Session

SB 282          Sen. Jane Nelson                                     
Provides for grants for nutrition education and nutrition programs in early childhood programs.

 SB 1027       Sen. Kirk Watson                                  
Establishes a farm-to-school task force so public schools have more locally grown fresh food.

SB 395         Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.                        
Creates a council to improve nutrition, health and physical activity in early childhood programs.

Bonus advocacy points: 

Tell your Texas legislative representatives that nutrition and health initiatives for low-income children remain a priority for you. Click here to find your representative.

“I’ve never had to ask before.”

July 2nd, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

CAFB122Our friends, family and neighbors continue to lose their jobs, and, as a result, many seek food assistance for the first time. Do you know someone who needs help with food?

Here are a few suggestions on how to ease possible tensions and/or embarrassment:

  • Help them navigate through all the available resources. It may seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Create a packet of information, including food pantry locations, 2-1-1 info, Food Stamp application and upcoming job fairs (if applicable) and give it to them.
  • Let them know they’re not alone – 40 percent more people are receiving food assistance (than this time last year), many for the first time.
  • Tell them that some food pantries, like CAFB East Austin Service Center, have a client choice program that allows you to choose what you want. Receiving food there is much like going to the grocery store.

For more information on available resources, click here.

Today! Tweet #twitterforfood to support the Food Bank.

July 1st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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Today, the second Twitter For Food event is happening on the popular social network, Twitter.  As you know, food bank donations are down and the need is up.  About 100 million more people worldwide are going hungry this year as compared to last, and with the poor economy, donations for food have dropped. 

You can help.
Tweet this cause using #twitterforfood in your tweets.

Twitter for Food is asking you to skip a meal and use the savings to fund hunger relief  through your local food bank.

Don’t forget to tell your friends!

 

 

Real Story: Arthur Lee Ford

June 25th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Arthur FordArthur Ford is a native Texan and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. His military experience left him with some mental health problems, and now, he lives in an all men’s East Austin boarding home.

Because Arthur is unable to hold a job, he visits the East Austin Service Center (EASC) to pick up groceries for himself and the other men in his house. Some weeks, he has to wait awhile (in line) until it’s his turn. He passes the time by singing for everyone standing outside. “They say I should be on American Idol!” he said.

Arthur says that waiting in line is worth it for the high quality of food and services he receives from EASC. 

“This is a good pantry,” he said. “They even cater to you. They walk you through and let you pick what you like! I think they’re doing a terrific job issuing so many people food!”

Looking for a Partner Agency near you? Click here.

HB 1622 (The Food Bank Bill) Suffers Technical Knock Out – Texas Legislative Priorities Not Aligned with Ending Hunger. Thank you for your advocacy!

June 4th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Lisa IMG 001 copyLisa Goddard
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director


Thanks to the hundreds of advocates who called, wrote and organized in their communities, The Food Bank Bill, HB 1622 passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Perry. Legislators in our 21 County service area all voted in favor of the bill.  We thank them for their support, especially legislators who signed on to author, co-author and sponsor the bill: Senators Zaffarini, Uresti, and Van de Puttte, and Representatives Gutierrez, Leibowitz, Giddings, Rios Ybarra, and Crab.

The problem is that not one dime was included in the budget to fund the Food Bank Bill.  

Other hunger-ending bills like SB 344, HB 3859, and HB 343 suffered a much worse fate, never making it to the Governor’s desk or getting signed into law, even if they were passed by the House and Senate. In good news, bills like HB 830 and HB 4024 that would have restricted access to SNAP (food stamp) benefits never made it past committee.

capitolSession is over, and our legislature has failed to enact strong public policy for the hungry.

An official press release from House Speaker, Joe Strauss claims satisfaction with the appropriations process:

“I am proud of the entire House for working together to produce a balanced budget, control state expenditures, and make wise spending decisions. Today’s approved budget makes prudent investments in critical areas and includes funding increases in education and health care.”

When “critical areas of investment” is not inclusive of the needs of the hungry, what does that say about our leadership’s priorities? 

Needless to say, we are deeply disappointed.  Not funding legislation, advocated by Texans, passed by legislators, and signed by the Governor that helps nourish hungry children is wrong.  Not enacting legislation (that would mean no additional expense to the taxpayer, I may add) that improves access to services that help lift families out of poverty and eases the burden on the working poor is wrong.  Not supporting opportunities for Texas to be more efficient and effective with existing federal anti-hunger legislation is irresponsible and leaves money on the table. 

I encourage you to look again at these bills  and learn about the missed opportunities for hunger reform, nonprofit collaboration, and public policy innovation.  Lack of strong public policy is one of the many reasons why we, and our fellow nonprofits, must work so hard to ensure children have even the most basic necessities of life.

We will continue to assess budgets not as complex abstract documents, but for its impact on human lives and the common good.  We must, because it’s the right thing to do. 

Yes, this is a setback, but it does not distract from the issue that too many Texans do not have the support and resources to adequately feed themselves and their families. I also hope that this session, inspires you to do even more – call as well as write your legislator, send that advocacy email to a friend, tweet a little more about opportunities to take action, send a letter to the editor about your concern for hungry Texas children. 

Join us as we continue our advocacy focus on child hunger. More to come soon.

Feeding America Study Reveals Texas Leads in Child Hunger

May 8th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

blog_lisa2Lisa Goddard
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director
 

Feeding America recently released a report using USDA data to determine state-by-state child hunger (those under age 18). For the second year in a row, the study revealed Texas having the #1 rate of child hunger at 22.1 percent. Texas is also in the top five states with children under five at risk of hunger (23.3 percent). Read the study here.

Instead of focusing on the shock of these numbers, we challenge you to act upon your desire to make a change.

We think it’s prudent to look to our community and elected leaders for more than their thoughts.  We also need their support.  The hunger conversation in Texas needs to be directed to our leaders, to whom we entrust to create a stronger Texas.  

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In response to the issue of child hunger, HB 1622 was introduced in the Texas Senate, last week. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the bill would provide $20 million to help food banks provide healthy foods to children at risk of hunger.

Roughly $1.5 million of the money from HB 1622 would go to Capital Area Food Bank to be distributed to the 350 Partner Agencies serving hungry Central Texans.

HB 1622 received passage in the Texas House last month.  We, again, thank all the Representatives in our 21 County Service Area who supported the bill:

Charles Doc Anderson, Jimmie Don Aycock, Valinda Bolton, Byron Cook, Dawnna Dukes, Jim Dunnam, Dan Gattis, Harvey Hilderbran,  Donna Howard, Tim Kleinschmidt, Diana Maldonado, Doug Miller, Sid Miller, Elliot Naishtat, Eddie Rodriguez, Patrick Rose, Ralph Sheffield and Mark Strama. 

We encourage you to send letters of thanks to them, as well.

Texas legislators are meeting this month to decide the fate of the bill and funding. Please contact your local state legislators and ask them to support funding for “the food bank bill.”

One-in-five Texas children is depending on you to be their voice.