One in four kids in America don’t know where his/her next meal is coming from.
1 in 4.
These statistics are horrifically sad and a call to action for the Child Hunger Ends Here initiative by Feeding America and ConAgra Foods.
Last week I visited the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, Texas to learn more about what that means for my community and what I can do to help.
I went with my friend Kim and the collective 3 kids that we had at home that day. Our tour guide, Andrea Helms, was extremely gracious in herding our circus through the food bank.
The Tarrant Area Food Bank serves 13 counties and is the clearing house for church food pantries, senior citizen centers, emergency shelters for abuse victims and homeless families, soup kitchens, low-income child care centers, after-school programs, Kids Cafes, Backpacks for Kids, rehabilitation facilities and other social service centers to receive food to pass on to those in need.
One-third of the recipients of food from the Tarrant Area Food Bank are children.
TAFB survives on food and monetary donations and volunteer hours.
In fact, last year 5,800 volunteers contributed 67,000 hours of service! Volunteering at the food bank is easy. Volunteers undergo basic training which includes food safety education and are asked to volunteer in blocks of at least three hours.
These volunteers are incredible. The mood throughout the food bank warehouse, offices and kitchens is enthusiastic and happy. It really makes you just want to chip in and help.
What the Tarrant Area Food Bank accomplishes is astounding.
They often have no idea what food will show up next.
It might be cans of corn.
It might be boxes of crackers.
It might be bread with a short shelf-life.
Yet, they combine whatever arrives on the next truck with what they have and a healthy dose of organization to turn it into something that can be used by its charity partners to feed hungry Texans.
Oh, and I am not talking about a few hundred boxes…it is a massive amount of food.
They have a freezer that is two-stories inside with a total of 2400 sq. feet!
Our kids were fascinated by the attire of the freezer workers and the magical automatic door that flew up and down before and after forklifts zipped in and out.
There is something that you see a lot of in the food bank…
They are sturdy and a good size for storage so they are everywhere (and not filled with bananas). These boxes have bags of food that has been compiled for the Backpacks for Kids program that goes out to 35 local schools. Kids in need are given a regular backpack at the beginning of the school year and each Friday the backpacks are filled with food for them to take home and eat over the weekend.
The fact that this program is necessary is heartbreaking, but it is inspiring that a need was seen and a problem solved.
All donations, no matter how small, is celebrated by the food bank.
Nicholas brought a donation as part of his boy scout requirements. He was thanked and given a receipt for his gift. It was all very exciting!
The spirit of giving permeates this place.
This is my favorite picture from our trip. Our guide, Andrea, modeled a hairnet while telling us how often corporations will donate a day or two of service and send their employees over to volunteer. The day turns out to be fun for the employees and a significant help to the food bank.
The Tarrant Area Food Bank is part of the Feeding America network. Feeding America serves 14 million children through its member food banks each year. They address children’s hunger through two programs – the Backpacks for Kids mentioned above and also Kids Cafe.
YOU can support these programs in a food bank near you through several painless ways:
- Go Grocery Shopping – Through May, purchase select ConAgra Foods brands with the red pushpin, enter the code online, and the company will donate one meal to Feeding America.
- Text to Donate – Text “FEEDKIDS” to 50555 to make a $10 donation directly to Feeding America through June 30, 2011.
- Tweet – Spread the Word on Twitter by following @ConAgraFoods and using the #childhungerendshere hashtag.
- Share a story – See the stories of those who benefit from your generosity in the fight against child hunger at ConAgra Foods FB page. Each time you share a story on your page through August 31, 2011, ConAgra Foods will help Feeding America secure an additional meal (up to 100,000).
I was truly inspired by what the Tarrant Area Food Bank accomplishes for my community. The most important thing I learned from my visit was that every little bit helps because someone is there to put it together with other donations and make it into something useful.
I am honored to be a Child Hunger Ends Here Blogger Correspondent sponsored by ConAgra Foods. My visit to the Tarrant Area Food Bank was arranged by this program which involves writing about the Child Hunger Ends Here program benefiting Feeding America and promoting it on FB and Twitter. You can follow along with the #ChildHungerEndsHere hashtag.
I am being compensated for my involvement through the generosity of ConAgra Foods.