Military Communities Take On the Front Lines of Hunger Relief

October 31st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

CAFB Partner, Operation Once in A Lifetime serves military families in Central Texas

CAFB Partner, Operation Once in A Lifetime serves military families in Central Texas

Every day, our Partner Agencies are on the front lines of hunger relief. Agencies like Operation Once in a Lifetime (OOIAL) are more than just food pantries. They become fixtures in the community.

OOIAL serves active duty military personnel, veterans and their families in Killeen. Their vision is to connect the community with our heroes in need.

Military families often manage the hardship of long deployments, the uncertain return of a loved one, and the potential injury of a family member in combat.  OOIAL has molded its outreach and programming to respond to these families’ unique needs, making it easier for Fort Hood residents to make the biggest impact on their community.

The pantry is open until 6 p.m. five days a week, making it more accessible to clients who work during the day. Pantry staff space out distribution, ensuring tasty, nutritious options are still available to clients who arrive later in the day. Marketing Director Ash Wells says they even keep track of military pay periods and order extra food the last week before pay checks come in.

A typical line for food distribution.

A typical line for food distribution.

OOIAL isn’t content to simply offer these services to whomever shows up for distribution. Wells says the pantry is constantly reaching out to the Fort Hood community in a variety of ways. They connect with community groups like Fort Hood Army Wives and the military’s Family Readiness Group. They participate in community events and actively promote events and fundraisers of their own.

Community outreach lets military families know OOIAL is there for them and attracts volunteers and donors.

“OOIAL has no trouble finding volunteers,” Wells says. “Many in the military community want to donate their time or financial resources.”

Valentine says the best way to get volunteers is by “letting them know how and see who they are helping.”

Their community engagement strategy has shown great results. Even in these tough economic times, OOIAL has been able to grow its pantry to serve even more military families. Wells says the pantry increased its food distribution more than 500 percent in just three months this year.

And they’re still growing. Life can be tough for military families, and there’s never too much we can do to show our gratitude.  Thank you to OOIAL and the Fort Hood Community for partnering with us to help end hunger.

The Surprising Face of Hunger also Wears Military Fatigues

February 29th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN 1/27/12 Joseph and Army Sgt. Sandy Cornet register at the Killeen Food Care pantry on Friday, Morning Jan. 27, 2012

Close your eyes, and think of the first image of what a hungry person in Central Texas looks like. Is it a homeless man holding a sign on the side of the highway? Is it a woman standing in line at a food pantry? Is it a child in an after school program?

All of those images are correct. But let’s add one more image to that scene that probably doesn’t come to mind – a soldier.

This weekend, the Austin-American Statesman ran a feature story on Fort Hood military families struggling with the same issues as many working poor Americans. In addition to low-pay, these families often struggle with the emotional toll of serious injuries, long deployments, death and adjusting to post-deployment life.

The Fort Hood area in Bell County is part of the Capital Area Food Bank’s service territory. In addition to distributing food through the Wheels of Sharing Mobile Food Pantry in Bartlett, CAFB provides food and grocery products to 22 Partner Agencies in Bell County. In partnership with Target’s Meals for Minds Program and Communities in Schools, CAFB brings families together at East Ward elementary school in Killeen each month for a fun-filled evening of educational activities, a hot nutritious meal and to receive nutritious food to prepare at home.

A family receives a hot dinner at the Target Meals for Minds in Killeen

Your support ensures that the men and women risking their lives to serve our nation have one less thing to worry about – ensuring their family has enough food on the table. Thank you for helping us serve those who help keep us safe.

Read the Austin-American Statesman story.

View the Austin-American Statesman story slideshow.

CAFB and Target Meals for Minds Program brings families together for meals, learning and lots of fun.

March 8th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

In a new partnership with Target, CAFB is bringing the Meals for Minds program to two high-need elementary schools in our service area. This program brings families together each month for a fun-filled evening of educational activities, a hot nutritious meal, and to receive nutritious food to prepare at home.

“The Food Bank is excited about this innovative new program, and the difference it will make in the lives of the children and the families it will serve,” said Hank Perret, CAFB president & CEO.

The first event, held on February 17 at East Ward elementary school in Killeen, was a tremendous success.  The theme of the evening was “Love your Libraries” and families got to enjoy fun reading themed activities facilitated by teachers dressed as Clifford the big red dog, Stewart Little and Snow White and other popular storybook characters.  After a spaghetti dinner, CAFB’s “Wheels of Sharing” Mobile Food Pantry, staffed with volunteers from Target, distributed food to the participants.  Eighty-two households were served an average of 54 pounds of healthy food per family.

Pickle Elementary in Austin premiered the Meals for Minds program on March 3.  This was a science themed event, with interactive presentations and demonstrations on scientific principals following a spaghetti dinner including a side salad.  Target volunteers were again on hand to volunteer with the “Wheels of Sharing” Mobile Food Pantry distribution. One hundred twenty-three households received an average of 56 pounds of nutritious food per family.

A recent study by Share Our Strength reveals that hunger in the classroom is an ongoing problem and it’s getting worse; nearly two-thirds of K-8 teachers say that children are coming to school hungry because they are not getting enough food at home.

The Meals for Minds program will run through the end of this school year and next, with a third school to be added at a later date.

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