Texas is fighting food insecurity and helping local farmers

More than 42 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they simply do not know where their next meal is coming from. Here is how the Texas Department of Agriculture is helping to feed the hungry and help farmers at the same time.

According to Derrick Chubbs, the CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank, “The challenge is a lot more daunting than we realize. A component of that is that the face of hunger really isn’t what you think. We often have this preconceived notion that hunger is totally designated to those who are homeless, but at the end of the day, only about 7 percent of our total number of clients fall into that category. The vast majority of our clients are working households, some working two or three jobs.”

The Central Texas Food Bank services 21 counties in the greater Austin area.

“Some people are caught in the tyranny of the moment, every single month having to decide whether or not if they’re going to pay for healthcare, whether they are going to pay utilities, their rent, and we all know what the cost of housing is like in Austin, or whether or not they are going to buy food and that’s the gap we try and fill,” Chubbs explains.

He spent many years in the for-profit technology sector but turned to the world of non-profit to make a difference in the lives of others.

“Some people may say it was a calling, I just simply say at a time in my life I realized that I really wanted to make a difference,” he states.

The food bank and the Texas Department of Agriculture work closely together. This partnership ensures that clients not only get the food that they need, but they get healthy nutritious items like fruits and vegetables, not just something out of a can.

The food bank accepts donations of perishable and non-perishable items all year long. Area farmers who may have a surplus or something that does not sell at the farmers market, they often bring those items to the warehouse.

Another avenue that keeps the food boxes filled is the Food Rescue Program. That’s where good food is saved or rescued from being thrown away in homes, grocery stores, and restaurants.

Nineteen million pounds of food were rescued from going to the landfill in 2020, and the food bank also has food growing on site. This provides not only fresh fruits and vegetables but a teaching opportunity, so folks will know how to grow their own food in their own backyard.

The Central Texas Food Bank has an ever-growing challenge to keep their shelves stocked, which means maintaining a relationship with local farmers is vital: “One reason Texas agriculture matters is the sheer size and diversity that it can provide to our respective communities. Everything from protein to produce. Programatically, programs that focus on our children to make sure that they get the food they need on a daily basis. Programs that help us push food to seniors who are on fixed incomes and not necessarily knowing where their next meals are coming from. This is a relationship that has transcended into something that is extraordinarily special and critical, not only to our food banks but just to our Texas society as a whole.”


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