–Written by Erik Sargent
Having a reliable food source and knowing where your next meal is coming from is something that many people in this country take for granted, but unfortunately, it’s not always the case for a large number of individuals across the U.S.
Hunger is an issue that continues to affect many people right here in our own country. Due to a variety of factors that can come into play, many adults – and especially children – are left to live day-by-day being unsure if they can eat, and often failing to receive the proper nutrition to maintain a healthy diet. It’s an ongoing issue, and one that organizations like the North Texas Food Bank strive to solve.
The North Texas Foodbank was founded in 1982 with the sole purpose of providing the residents of the greater Northern Texas area access to nutritious food. With such a high number of people in the area, it can be a daunting task.
“Our mission is to close the hunger gap in North Texas by providing access to nutritious food,” said Lexi Kay, the annual campaign manager for the North Texas Food Bank. “Currently, there are more than 800,000 people – which includes 300,000 children – who are currently facing food insecurity. Food insecurity means that they don’t always know where their next healthy meal will come from.”
NTFB is able to cover a 13-county service area in North Texas, providing more than 190,000 meals each day through various locations and through their new distribution center. Just last year alone, NFTB was able to provide people access to nearly 72 million meals, and their goal by 2025 is to be able to provide 92 million meals in the year.
How does an organization like NTFB – which is a nonprofit – receive the necessary resources to make this goal a reality?
“We work with a network of over 200 partner agencies,” Kay said. “These partner agencies typically have a food pantry within their organization, so that’s really how we are getting the food out to those in need. We’re pretty much receiving either donated food, purchased food, or different kinds of food provided by the government and we provide it where it’s needed the most. Without these partner agencies, we would not be able to meet hunger demand we see. These partnerships are very critical to what we do here.”
To match their partnerships with various organizations, NTFB was able to open a new, state-of-the-art distribution center which allows them to operate at an even higher level and put more meals in peoples’ hands across North Texas.
“Since we’ve seen such an increased need for food here in our community, we’ve recently opened our new distribution center in Plano, Texas,” Kay said. “It’s very exciting. It’s three times the size of our prior distribution center, and it’s centrally located within our service area which allows for more engagement with business, volunteer’s, donors, and helps us meet the needs of the area.”
A big part of what NTFB does is not just getting food in people’s hands, but providing access to healthy food to make the process worthwhile.
Their organization allows members of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to have access to all NTFB resources, and they set up pantries with healthy food options to make sure people are maintain – and having the options – for a nutritious diet.
“One of our pantries that we run is called ‘Our Community Pantry’, and we set it up as a client-choice pantry, which means that clients can come in and choose what they want to take home with them when shopping for groceries,” Kay said. “It’s set up just like a grocery store, and the clients come in and have a cart and volunteers help them shop for what they need.”
Tackling the ongoing issue of hunger takes more than just one organization, and it’s important for as many hands as possible to get involved in making a difference. One company that has put their resources to good use with this issue is the international moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.
For more than 30 years, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK has made it a point to donate their trucks and moving resources to all types of charitable causes. One campaign they developed on their own, Movers for Meals®, specifically deals with people facing hunger. The company partners with various organizations to help deliver and pickup food and other items and deliver them where needed, taking some of the pressure off food banks who are working to distribute meals.
The TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Lansing location ran Movers for Meals during the month of October, partnering with local businesses in the area like MSUFCU, Tutor Time, WLNS, and McLaren of Greater Lansing to gather donated, non-perishable food items for families in need.
“The response from the organizations was a surprise,” said Laura Larson, the marketing coordinator for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Lansing. “We couldn’t have imaged how strong and supportive they have been with this project, especially since we have done other charities in the past with these organizations helping us. These organizations match our compassion and love for our community, and it is amazing to be partnered with them this year for Movers for Meals.”
This kind of work fits in with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s list of company core values, and for the Lansing franchise, it was a no-brainer getting involved and helping.
“In Michigan alone, one out of seven people go hungry and of those, one out of four are children,” Larson said. “It takes a village to raise a child and when that child is hungry and in need, we all need to get involved. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Lansing strives each and every day to make a difference in our community, and that means making sure that we can stop the one out of seven people going hungry. This program strongly fits into our core values and what we stand for.”
Help make a difference
As with any charitable cause, the work of the organization only goes so far – it’s up to the help of everyone to make sure the needs and goals of a certain area are met.
“In order for us to do what we do, we really rely on donations,” Kay said. “A lot of our donations come from corporations, individuals, grants – that’s really where our funding comes from, and it’s what helps us operate.”
More than just cash donations and grants, one of the best things that can make a difference is people getting out and helping by volunteering their time.
“At least for us here, we are striving to have individuals come to our new facility and to see what it looks like and hear more about our mission,” Kay said. “We’re always looking for volunteers – they help us pack a lot of the food that goes out, so they are critically needed. We are always looking for advocates, too. People to use their voice to tell elected officials that there is hunger in the community.”