November 13, 2014
by Brighter Bites team

Brighter Bites – A Day in the Life!

November 13, 2014
by Brighter Bites team

By Kristin Michalewicz and Jacqueline Noyola

PicMonkey Collage 802x1024 Brighter Bites   A Day in the Life!

As Brighter Bites Coordinators (a NTFB Partner Program) we are constantly on the go. Our jobs are rewarding and engaging, and can also be a bit hectic and sometimes force us to get our hands a little dirty!

Last week, the NTFB Brighter Bites team met for a quick huddle to prepare for the week. We decided to make Crunchy Apple Crisps for families for the week’s healthy snack since it is prime apple season. After buying bags and bags of apples, we headed to NTFB’s amazing Community Kitchen to slice and bake the apples. (We couldn’t possibly give our precious kiddos the snack without a few taste tests ourselves to ensure deliciousness!) We packaged our Crunchy Apple Crisps and the recipe, along with the week’s supplies of nutrition education pieces for each of our nine schools. Then we hit the road.


Kristin Michalewics: I headed to a Brighter Bites elementary school in southwest Dallas. Because Brighter Bites is a collaborative, community based program, we work with each of our participating schools to recruit volunteers who help us bag the produce – the volunteers are mainly students’ family members, teachers, and occasionally older elementary students (9 and 10 year olds are crazy fast at bagging produce!). At noon I met Vaughan, the incredible NTFB distribution driver, at the school and he unloaded six pallets of fresh fruits and vegetables – a total of 5,100 pounds for 170 families at that school.

As we were in an assembly line bagging the produce into two paper bags per family, I talked to one mom who used last week’s red and green peppers to make stuffed peppers with a delicious mix of ground beef, bread crumbs and seasoning. I was so excited to hear that her kids FIRST ate the green and red peppers, then the stuffing!


Jacqueline Noyola: I went to a different elementary school in north east Dallas. While chatting with one volunteer mom, she told me that her elementary aged son has always been interested in food and cooking, and aspires to become a chef one day. Since participating in Brighter Bites this fall, her son has been able to experiment and explore using the fresh fruits and vegetables to create new recipes. He is using the produce as a tool to express his creativity in the kitchen. And hopefully he is charting the course to become a world famous chef!


We love our jobs, and we love that we get to spend each day with sweet families who are dedicated to making their kids’ lives brighter by helping to nourish them with healthy, fresh food. At the end of each week we crash, exhausted from moving all that produce, but renewed and energized knowing that we provided brighter choices and brighter outlooks for our 1,800 Brighter Bites families!

 

By Kristin Michalewicz and Jacqueline Noyola

PicMonkey Collage 802x1024 Brighter Bites   A Day in the Life!

As Brighter Bites Coordinators (a NTFB Partner Program) we are constantly on the go. Our jobs are rewarding and engaging, and can also be a bit hectic and sometimes force us to get our hands a little dirty!

Last week, the NTFB Brighter Bites team met for a quick huddle to prepare for the week. We decided to make Crunchy Apple Crisps for families for the week’s healthy snack since it is prime apple season. After buying bags and bags of apples, we headed to NTFB’s amazing Community Kitchen to slice and bake the apples. (We couldn’t possibly give our precious kiddos the snack without a few taste tests ourselves to ensure deliciousness!) We packaged our Crunchy Apple Crisps and the recipe, along with the week’s supplies of nutrition education pieces for each of our nine schools. Then we hit the road.


Kristin Michalewics: I headed to a Brighter Bites elementary school in southwest Dallas. Because Brighter Bites is a collaborative, community based program, we work with each of our participating schools to recruit volunteers who help us bag the produce – the volunteers are mainly students’ family members, teachers, and occasionally older elementary students (9 and 10 year olds are crazy fast at bagging produce!). At noon I met Vaughan, the incredible NTFB distribution driver, at the school and he unloaded six pallets of fresh fruits and vegetables – a total of 5,100 pounds for 170 families at that school.

As we were in an assembly line bagging the produce into two paper bags per family, I talked to one mom who used last week’s red and green peppers to make stuffed peppers with a delicious mix of ground beef, bread crumbs and seasoning. I was so excited to hear that her kids FIRST ate the green and red peppers, then the stuffing!


Jacqueline Noyola: I went to a different elementary school in north east Dallas. While chatting with one volunteer mom, she told me that her elementary aged son has always been interested in food and cooking, and aspires to become a chef one day. Since participating in Brighter Bites this fall, her son has been able to experiment and explore using the fresh fruits and vegetables to create new recipes. He is using the produce as a tool to express his creativity in the kitchen. And hopefully he is charting the course to become a world famous chef!


We love our jobs, and we love that we get to spend each day with sweet families who are dedicated to making their kids’ lives brighter by helping to nourish them with healthy, fresh food. At the end of each week we crash, exhausted from moving all that produce, but renewed and energized knowing that we provided brighter choices and brighter outlooks for our 1,800 Brighter Bites families!

 


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November 11, 2014
by Diana Carranza

National Call-In Day for HR 4719: Nov. 12

November 11, 2014
by Diana Carranza

HR4719  National Call In Day for HR 4719: Nov. 12

Now that the election is over, Congress will return to Washington to finish its remaining business. High on the priority list for both parties will be extending several expiring tax provisions to be high. Our goal is to ensure that the food donation tax deduction (HR 4719) is included in the final package that Congress puts together. HR 4719 would provide tax incentives for farmers and businesses to donate food to charitable organizations like NTFB – not only helping us get more food to those who need it, but also helping to prevent good food from being wasted!  We need to show Congress that NTFB, our Partner Agencies, and donors support this legislation and articulate the positive impact it will have on our ability to serve those in need in our community.

On Wednesday, November 12, we are partnering with Feeding America on a National Call-In Day to mobilize support for the food donation tax deduction.  Your voice will be critical to the success in getting this legislation passed. 

Calling Congress is easy!  Here’s how:

1. Just dial Feeding America’s toll free number, (888) 398-8702, listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
2. Once you are connected to your senators first, state that you are a constituent, and give your name and the town you are calling from.
3. Let them know you are calling about food donation tax legislation and deliver this important message:

Senator/Representative, please include the America Gives More Act (HR 4719) in tax legislation this year.  The legislation improves tax incentives for food donation and would help farmers, small businesses, and other donors to donate more food to food banks and other local charities.  We waste 70 billion pounds of food in this country, and yet nearly 47 million Americans are turning to food banks for help.  You can help the North Texas Food Bank and others get more food to those in need in our community by passing food donation legislation before the end of the year.    

Be sure to dial back in and speak with both of your senators and your representative.

Thanks for your support North Texas!

HR4719  National Call In Day for HR 4719: Nov. 12

Now that the election is over, Congress will return to Washington to finish its remaining business. High on the priority list for both parties will be extending several expiring tax provisions to be high. Our goal is to ensure that the food donation tax deduction (HR 4719) is included in the final package that Congress puts together. HR 4719 would provide tax incentives for farmers and businesses to donate food to charitable organizations like NTFB – not only helping us get more food to those who need it, but also helping to prevent good food from being wasted!  We need to show Congress that NTFB, our Partner Agencies, and donors support this legislation and articulate the positive impact it will have on our ability to serve those in need in our community.

On Wednesday, November 12, we are partnering with Feeding America on a National Call-In Day to mobilize support for the food donation tax deduction.  Your voice will be critical to the success in getting this legislation passed. 

Calling Congress is easy!  Here’s how:

1. Just dial Feeding America’s toll free number, (888) 398-8702, listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
2. Once you are connected to your senators first, state that you are a constituent, and give your name and the town you are calling from.
3. Let them know you are calling about food donation tax legislation and deliver this important message:

Senator/Representative, please include the America Gives More Act (HR 4719) in tax legislation this year.  The legislation improves tax incentives for food donation and would help farmers, small businesses, and other donors to donate more food to food banks and other local charities.  We waste 70 billion pounds of food in this country, and yet nearly 47 million Americans are turning to food banks for help.  You can help the North Texas Food Bank and others get more food to those in need in our community by passing food donation legislation before the end of the year.    

Be sure to dial back in and speak with both of your senators and your representative.

Thanks for your support North Texas!


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October 20, 2014
by Jennifer Mays

Nourishing Our Neighbors

October 20, 2014
by Jennifer Mays
Miss Susie 300x227 Nourishing Our Neighbors

Miss Susie and Jennifer Mays

By Jennifer Mays, Manager of Senior Programs

In the summer before I started third grade my family moved to Pecan Gap, a small town of about 250 people in one of the thirteen counties served by the North Texas Food Bank.  The move wasn’t exactly by choice – my father was a preacher and was ‘appointed’ to come to this church.  We were to move into the parsonage, which is a fancy word for the house next door to the church.  I vividly remember move day.  Not only were we welcomed to the town by a man riding a horse, it was the day I first met Miss Susie.  As we unloaded boxes into our new home, Miss Susie walked across the dirt street to introduce herself.  She told us that she had lived in her home across from the church for many years, and even though her husband had passed away, she had grown up in the area and loved Pecan Gap.  She was a petite woman with all gray hair and looked about 70 years old.  Little did I know she would become one of my best friends.

As you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of children in a town of 250 people so I would walk across the street to Miss Susie’s house several nights a week.  She had a white porch swing we would sit on while we visited. I also had many sleepovers at Miss Susie’s house.  She would pull out the lumpy hide-a-bed from the living room couch and I can still recall the smell of the old vinyl.  I didn’t care about the smell or the fact that I had a bed across the street; we always had a great time.  I would sit at the kitchen table while she cooked dinner.  Her specialty was fried potatoes.  I don’t remember her having air conditioning so it would get pretty toasty in the kitchen while she cooked.  Again, I didn’t mind.

In all the years I spent with Miss Susie, I never remember her struggling to buy food.  Reflecting back, I wonder if I would have known.  Often sacrifices are made by parents and grandparents so that children aren’t affected by food insecurity.  I wonder if Miss Susie skipped meals or ate less in order to make her food stretch through the week.  I wonder if she was forced to choose between purchasing medication and food.  Unfortunately this is all too common for seniors at a time when getting enough nutrients is vital to their ability to be healthy and remain in their homes.

Canned Food Drive 3 300x300 Nourishing Our Neighbors

Miss Susie passed away several years ago, but she is still my inspiration today.  As the Manager of Senior Programs at the North Texas Food Bank I am proud that this year we launched a senior home delivery program called Nourishing Neighbors which pairs a volunteer with low-income seniors to deliver a bag of groceries every two weeks.  One of the key components of the program is that it is nutritionally-focused; the bag provides basic food items such as peanut butter, low-sodium canned vegetables, and fresh produce.  Recently a Nourishing Neighbors participant told us:  “I was in need of every bit of it. I’ve used everything. When I ate the chicken I thought, ‘They must have been reading my mind.’ I wanted to say thank you for it all! It came at the right time. Nourishing Neighbors plus my $15 in food stamps really helped me.

When I think about the seniors we’re serving through Nourishing Neighbors, I think of Miss Susie. I want them to know it is ok to ask for help with food – this is a judgment-free zone! I want them to know they’re not alone.  I want them to never feel like they have to choose between food and medication, or food and rent. After decades of contributing to our community, they deserve to never have to wonder where their next meal will come from.


If you or someone you know is 50 or older, needs help with food and has difficulty leaving their home, we can help.  Please call 214-367-3122 or email us at nnteam@ntfb.org.  If you want to help Nourishing Neighbors by donating or volunteering, please visit www.ntfb.org.

Miss Susie 300x227 Nourishing Our Neighbors

Miss Susie and Jennifer Mays

By Jennifer Mays, Manager of Senior Programs

In the summer before I started third grade my family moved to Pecan Gap, a small town of about 250 people in one of the thirteen counties served by the North Texas Food Bank.  The move wasn’t exactly by choice – my father was a preacher and was ‘appointed’ to come to this church.  We were to move into the parsonage, which is a fancy word for the house next door to the church.  I vividly remember move day.  Not only were we welcomed to the town by a man riding a horse, it was the day I first met Miss Susie.  As we unloaded boxes into our new home, Miss Susie walked across the dirt street to introduce herself.  She told us that she had lived in her home across from the church for many years, and even though her husband had passed away, she had grown up in the area and loved Pecan Gap.  She was a petite woman with all gray hair and looked about 70 years old.  Little did I know she would become one of my best friends.

As you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of children in a town of 250 people so I would walk across the street to Miss Susie’s house several nights a week.  She had a white porch swing we would sit on while we visited. I also had many sleepovers at Miss Susie’s house.  She would pull out the lumpy hide-a-bed from the living room couch and I can still recall the smell of the old vinyl.  I didn’t care about the smell or the fact that I had a bed across the street; we always had a great time.  I would sit at the kitchen table while she cooked dinner.  Her specialty was fried potatoes.  I don’t remember her having air conditioning so it would get pretty toasty in the kitchen while she cooked.  Again, I didn’t mind.

In all the years I spent with Miss Susie, I never remember her struggling to buy food.  Reflecting back, I wonder if I would have known.  Often sacrifices are made by parents and grandparents so that children aren’t affected by food insecurity.  I wonder if Miss Susie skipped meals or ate less in order to make her food stretch through the week.  I wonder if she was forced to choose between purchasing medication and food.  Unfortunately this is all too common for seniors at a time when getting enough nutrients is vital to their ability to be healthy and remain in their homes.

Canned Food Drive 3 300x300 Nourishing Our Neighbors

Miss Susie passed away several years ago, but she is still my inspiration today.  As the Manager of Senior Programs at the North Texas Food Bank I am proud that this year we launched a senior home delivery program called Nourishing Neighbors which pairs a volunteer with low-income seniors to deliver a bag of groceries every two weeks.  One of the key components of the program is that it is nutritionally-focused; the bag provides basic food items such as peanut butter, low-sodium canned vegetables, and fresh produce.  Recently a Nourishing Neighbors participant told us:  “I was in need of every bit of it. I’ve used everything. When I ate the chicken I thought, ‘They must have been reading my mind.’ I wanted to say thank you for it all! It came at the right time. Nourishing Neighbors plus my $15 in food stamps really helped me.

When I think about the seniors we’re serving through Nourishing Neighbors, I think of Miss Susie. I want them to know it is ok to ask for help with food – this is a judgment-free zone! I want them to know they’re not alone.  I want them to never feel like they have to choose between food and medication, or food and rent. After decades of contributing to our community, they deserve to never have to wonder where their next meal will come from.


If you or someone you know is 50 or older, needs help with food and has difficulty leaving their home, we can help.  Please call 214-367-3122 or email us at nnteam@ntfb.org.  If you want to help Nourishing Neighbors by donating or volunteering, please visit www.ntfb.org.


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October 08, 2014
by Brighter Bites team

Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas

October 08, 2014
by Brighter Bites team

by Alicia Farhat, Brighter Bites Program Manager at NTFB 

i00095 1024x768 Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas

Would you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables if you had a steady stream of fresh goodies on your kitchen counter? What about thirty pounds a week, two paper bags full – could you incorporate that into your household’s weekly meals?  This may be more than you’re used to, but Brighter Bites thinks not only that you could, but you should! In fact, that’s the idea that the Brighter Bites program is centered around:

If we give our kids something better to munch on, they will!

Brighter Bites is a new partner program with NTFB that strives to improve poor nutrition that often exists for low-income families by providing access to healthier foods and teaching families easy ways to prepare more nutritious options. We go into elementary schools – a total of 9 Dallas-area elementary schools– and for 16 weeks of programming, we give families fresh produce (30 pounds each week!), nutrition education, and fun food samples.

Because the Dallas weather finally began to cool down a little, last week we were able to bag produce outside at one of our schools.  Along with parent and community volunteers, we moved 50-pound bulk bags and boxes of heavy but delicious fresh produce, from the NTFB truck to tables where we filled two bags for each family.  We also slipped fun, colorful educational pieces and recipe cards into their produce bags – showing easy ways to incorporate all 30 pounds of produce into the week’s meals.

Families take home a huge variety of fresh produce: tomatoes, pomegranates, honeydew melon, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, butternut squash, apples, oranges, corn, raisins, and potatoes! Some of these items are new to the families in the program, so we know the recipes and the educational pieces are an important part of engaging the students and families in taking on healthier habits.

BB blog photo 1 300x225 Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas My favorite part of the Brighter Bites distributions is when families try a sample of a recipe using some of the produce items in that week’s bags.  Last week the snack sample was a “Hulk Smoothie” – packed with tons of vitamins and minerals from the honeydew, peaches, and, you guessed it, SPINACH which turned it green!  Kids were trailing me down the hall asking for more!

We are off to a great start to the fall program!  Several principals and teachers have told me how grateful they are for the fresh, healthy produce for their families.  They know their students will come to school with full bellies, and with the energy and attention to focus in the classroom.  We cannot wait to be with our families this week and hear all the amazing meals they created with their produce!
Hulk Smoothie Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas

by Alicia Farhat, Brighter Bites Program Manager at NTFB 

i00095 1024x768 Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas

Would you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables if you had a steady stream of fresh goodies on your kitchen counter? What about thirty pounds a week, two paper bags full – could you incorporate that into your household’s weekly meals?  This may be more than you’re used to, but Brighter Bites thinks not only that you could, but you should! In fact, that’s the idea that the Brighter Bites program is centered around:

If we give our kids something better to munch on, they will!

Brighter Bites is a new partner program with NTFB that strives to improve poor nutrition that often exists for low-income families by providing access to healthier foods and teaching families easy ways to prepare more nutritious options. We go into elementary schools – a total of 9 Dallas-area elementary schools– and for 16 weeks of programming, we give families fresh produce (30 pounds each week!), nutrition education, and fun food samples.

Because the Dallas weather finally began to cool down a little, last week we were able to bag produce outside at one of our schools.  Along with parent and community volunteers, we moved 50-pound bulk bags and boxes of heavy but delicious fresh produce, from the NTFB truck to tables where we filled two bags for each family.  We also slipped fun, colorful educational pieces and recipe cards into their produce bags – showing easy ways to incorporate all 30 pounds of produce into the week’s meals.

Families take home a huge variety of fresh produce: tomatoes, pomegranates, honeydew melon, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, butternut squash, apples, oranges, corn, raisins, and potatoes! Some of these items are new to the families in the program, so we know the recipes and the educational pieces are an important part of engaging the students and families in taking on healthier habits.

BB blog photo 1 300x225 Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas My favorite part of the Brighter Bites distributions is when families try a sample of a recipe using some of the produce items in that week’s bags.  Last week the snack sample was a “Hulk Smoothie” – packed with tons of vitamins and minerals from the honeydew, peaches, and, you guessed it, SPINACH which turned it green!  Kids were trailing me down the hall asking for more!

We are off to a great start to the fall program!  Several principals and teachers have told me how grateful they are for the fresh, healthy produce for their families.  They know their students will come to school with full bellies, and with the energy and attention to focus in the classroom.  We cannot wait to be with our families this week and hear all the amazing meals they created with their produce!
Hulk Smoothie Bringing Brighter Bites to North Texas


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September 25, 2014
by Richard Amory

Hunger is bad for your health

September 25, 2014
by Richard Amory

by Richard Amory, Director of Research, NTFB Hunger Center

Hunger Center Blog 300x300 Hunger is bad for your health

“Sometimes, matter of fact, if I am hungry, I will just increase my insulin…some people tell me the less insulin you take the more better you manage your diabetes. But sometimes I have to just eat what I have and then I just check it, and I just have to increase my insulin. And that’s a bad way to depend because insulin is not really good for you in high amounts. It’s just something I have to do when I don’t have the proper amount of food.”

“Nutritious foods cost more money…You just try your best, the most nutritious way that you can. I think if I have canned foods and high blood pressure, and try to get them with no salt and I rinse them off real good…Rinse that stuff off when it come out of can. And put fresh water on it.”

The testimonies above are from research that was funded by NTFB’s The Hunger Center and conducted by members of the Anthropology Department at the University of North Texas. The study focuses on the experiences of people living with food insecurity and serious health issues or disabilities as well as the  role social connections play  in their lives. (A full report on UNT’s findings and a collection of individual stories will be made public this fall.)

As the Director of Research for the food bank’s Hunger Center, I continue to learn over and over again that hunger is bad for your health. It can cause long-term developmental problems in children. It can increase your risk of becoming diabetic as an adult. Diet-related conditions, in particular, are extremely common among those we serve.  In fact, in a recent study released by NTFB and Feeding America, we learned that of those receiving assistance through the NTFB network, 33% report having someone in their household with diabetes, 59% have someone with high blood pressure, and 68% have to choose between paying for food and medical care.
 

HealthHunger 1024x764 Hunger is bad for your healthLow-income individuals with limited access to food need not only more nutritious food – especially fresh produce – but food that is appropriate for their specific medical conditions.  This means that the North Texas Food Bank has to provide:

  • food that is low-salt for those with high blood pressure (which affects a large majority of households served by the NTFB),
  • food that is low-carb/sugar for those with diabetes and
  • enough variety to allow people to avoid foods that react negatively with their medications.


The more we learn, the more motivated we are to provide nutritious food and the right foods to those who need them. This past year, the NTFB began purchasing low-sodium canned vegetables by the truckload, to supplement what we collect through donations. The low-salt varieties cost us a few more cents per pound, but so many of those we serve really need them- and they are worth every penny. In addition, last year, we provided nearly 15 million pounds of fresh produce for those in need in North Texas.

If you provide food assistance in any way, whether by dropping off cans at a canned food drive or making a monetary donation to a food bank or food pantry, you are involved in the health of low-income households. This is incredibly important to remember as we all work together to end hunger in North Texas.


The Hunger Center of North Texas helps the NTFB get to know the people that we serve better and builds knowledge to help us fight hunger more effectively. Click here for more information on the Hunger Center.

by Richard Amory, Director of Research, NTFB Hunger Center

Hunger Center Blog 300x300 Hunger is bad for your health

“Sometimes, matter of fact, if I am hungry, I will just increase my insulin…some people tell me the less insulin you take the more better you manage your diabetes. But sometimes I have to just eat what I have and then I just check it, and I just have to increase my insulin. And that’s a bad way to depend because insulin is not really good for you in high amounts. It’s just something I have to do when I don’t have the proper amount of food.”

“Nutritious foods cost more money…You just try your best, the most nutritious way that you can. I think if I have canned foods and high blood pressure, and try to get them with no salt and I rinse them off real good…Rinse that stuff off when it come out of can. And put fresh water on it.”

The testimonies above are from research that was funded by NTFB’s The Hunger Center and conducted by members of the Anthropology Department at the University of North Texas. The study focuses on the experiences of people living with food insecurity and serious health issues or disabilities as well as the  role social connections play  in their lives. (A full report on UNT’s findings and a collection of individual stories will be made public this fall.)

As the Director of Research for the food bank’s Hunger Center, I continue to learn over and over again that hunger is bad for your health. It can cause long-term developmental problems in children. It can increase your risk of becoming diabetic as an adult. Diet-related conditions, in particular, are extremely common among those we serve.  In fact, in a recent study released by NTFB and Feeding America, we learned that of those receiving assistance through the NTFB network, 33% report having someone in their household with diabetes, 59% have someone with high blood pressure, and 68% have to choose between paying for food and medical care.
 

HealthHunger 1024x764 Hunger is bad for your healthLow-income individuals with limited access to food need not only more nutritious food – especially fresh produce – but food that is appropriate for their specific medical conditions.  This means that the North Texas Food Bank has to provide:

  • food that is low-salt for those with high blood pressure (which affects a large majority of households served by the NTFB),
  • food that is low-carb/sugar for those with diabetes and
  • enough variety to allow people to avoid foods that react negatively with their medications.


The more we learn, the more motivated we are to provide nutritious food and the right foods to those who need them. This past year, the NTFB began purchasing low-sodium canned vegetables by the truckload, to supplement what we collect through donations. The low-salt varieties cost us a few more cents per pound, but so many of those we serve really need them- and they are worth every penny. In addition, last year, we provided nearly 15 million pounds of fresh produce for those in need in North Texas.

If you provide food assistance in any way, whether by dropping off cans at a canned food drive or making a monetary donation to a food bank or food pantry, you are involved in the health of low-income households. This is incredibly important to remember as we all work together to end hunger in North Texas.


The Hunger Center of North Texas helps the NTFB get to know the people that we serve better and builds knowledge to help us fight hunger more effectively. Click here for more information on the Hunger Center.


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September 11, 2014
by Diana Carranza

Call Congress Today to Support TEFAP

September 11, 2014
by Diana Carranza

Call Congress 300x300 Call Congress Today to Support TEFAP

Feeding America has reached out to us with some late breaking news about TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) that will require NTFB and our supporters to quickly mobilize.

Because Congress is running out of time before they recess until November to campaign, they will have to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR).  The proposed CR will likely fund the government at the previous year’s levels—before the farm bill was passed.  That means there is some ambiguity as to whether the additional TEFAP funding from the farm bill ($50 million for FY15) will be included in the CR.

We need to act quickly. TEFAP helps food banks provide nutritious food to low-income Americans in need of short-term hunger relief in partnership with local pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters.  On average, TEFAP provides 20% of the food Feeding America distributes and serves as the foundation for much of what food banks distribute to clients.

Unfortunately, we have little time.  Please call both your senators and representative today, September 11.

Calling Congress is easy!  Here’s how:

  1. Call The Feeding America advocacy hotline at (888) 398-8702
  2. Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
  3. Once you are connected, state that you are a constituent and give your name and your hometown.  Be sure to give the name of the food bank or local agency you are affiliated with as well.
  4. Let them know you are calling about the Continuing Resolution and deliver this important message:

“I am calling in support of the North Texas Food Bank about a matter of critical importance to our food bank and community.  As you finalize the Continuing Resolution, please make sure the increase in TEFAP funding from the 2014 farm bill is included in the final bill.”

Be sure to dial back so you can speak with both of your senators and your representative.

As always, thanks for taking action against hunger in North Texas and beyond!

Call Congress 300x300 Call Congress Today to Support TEFAP

Feeding America has reached out to us with some late breaking news about TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) that will require NTFB and our supporters to quickly mobilize.

Because Congress is running out of time before they recess until November to campaign, they will have to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR).  The proposed CR will likely fund the government at the previous year’s levels—before the farm bill was passed.  That means there is some ambiguity as to whether the additional TEFAP funding from the farm bill ($50 million for FY15) will be included in the CR.

We need to act quickly. TEFAP helps food banks provide nutritious food to low-income Americans in need of short-term hunger relief in partnership with local pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters.  On average, TEFAP provides 20% of the food Feeding America distributes and serves as the foundation for much of what food banks distribute to clients.

Unfortunately, we have little time.  Please call both your senators and representative today, September 11.

Calling Congress is easy!  Here’s how:

  1. Call The Feeding America advocacy hotline at (888) 398-8702
  2. Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.
  3. Once you are connected, state that you are a constituent and give your name and your hometown.  Be sure to give the name of the food bank or local agency you are affiliated with as well.
  4. Let them know you are calling about the Continuing Resolution and deliver this important message:

“I am calling in support of the North Texas Food Bank about a matter of critical importance to our food bank and community.  As you finalize the Continuing Resolution, please make sure the increase in TEFAP funding from the 2014 farm bill is included in the final bill.”

Be sure to dial back so you can speak with both of your senators and your representative.

As always, thanks for taking action against hunger in North Texas and beyond!


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September 02, 2014
by Kat Lindholm

You are what you eat: Why Food Insecurity is a Public Health Issue.

September 02, 2014
by Kat Lindholm

by Katherine Lindholm, RD, NTFB Nutrition Services Manager

You Are What You Eat Blog 1024x752 You are what you eat: Why Food Insecurity is a Public Health Issue. People need food and water to survive.  That’s a fairly straightforward fact.  The types and amount of food and drink consumed can impact ones health in a positive or negative way.  Still no protests?  I would venture to guess that most people agree with both statements.  The question becomes whether, when addressing food insecurity, should we consider the health repercussions of the food distributed to those in need?  I personally think that makes the most sense (but, as an RD, I’m certainly biased towards a health-based focus!).  Still, thinking objectively about the situation, why should we stop at helping people survive and instead, see how we can help them thrive?

The answer is: if we only focus on “filling tummies” and forget to consider what the long-term consequences are if that food doesn’t provide needed nutrients, we could be simply substituting one problem for another.  Fullness and malnourishment can and often do coexist.  Think about your car for a second: I’m not a car expert, but I know that filling my gas tank with orange juice instead of the required unleaded fuel would make a difference in how my car ran.  Yes, the tank would be full… but full of the wrong fuel.  I’m not saying that we should stop feeding people altogether, we should just ensure we are feeding them what their bodies need.  Providing no fuel doesn’t generate momentum in the right direction either.

Healthy, balanced diets can help reduce the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers (not to mention help in overall health and happiness!).  If we provide those needing food assistance with food that increases their risk for illnesses and disease, we may be decreasing their grocery budget and feeding them in the short-term, but drastically increasing their medical bills in the long-term.  We would be providing food, but hurting their health.

1 in 3 lbs fruit or veggie 300x300 You are what you eat: Why Food Insecurity is a Public Health Issue.

The great news is that health and hunger are no longer seen as completely separate issues (as they have often been in the past).  Feeding America started www.healthyfoodbankhub.org in 2013 as a place to share how food banks support health and to share nutrition-related resources among their partners.  In addition, last month Feeding America and HMS Holding Corp. also hosted a Virtual Town Hall on the issue. Locally, NTFB makes sure to offer an inventory full of all MyPlate food groups, focusing on nutrient-rich foods.  Over 1 in 3 pounds that NTFB distributes is a fruit or vegetable and 1 in 4 pounds is fresh produce. To top this off, free nutrition education is provided to low-income clients, helping support them in their journey towards a happy, healthy and hunger-free life!

There are certainly more challenges to address, policies to enact, collaborations to make, research to do and programs to pilot in order to fully eradicate food insecurity and associated, preventable health problems, but at least we’re pointed in the right direction.  Join us in pursuing a healthy and hunger-free community!

by Katherine Lindholm, RD, NTFB Nutrition Services Manager

You Are What You Eat Blog 1024x752 You are what you eat: Why Food Insecurity is a Public Health Issue. People need food and water to survive.  That’s a fairly straightforward fact.  The types and amount of food and drink consumed can impact ones health in a positive or negative way.  Still no protests?  I would venture to guess that most people agree with both statements.  The question becomes whether, when addressing food insecurity, should we consider the health repercussions of the food distributed to those in need?  I personally think that makes the most sense (but, as an RD, I’m certainly biased towards a health-based focus!).  Still, thinking objectively about the situation, why should we stop at helping people survive and instead, see how we can help them thrive?

The answer is: if we only focus on “filling tummies” and forget to consider what the long-term consequences are if that food doesn’t provide needed nutrients, we could be simply substituting one problem for another.  Fullness and malnourishment can and often do coexist.  Think about your car for a second: I’m not a car expert, but I know that filling my gas tank with orange juice instead of the required unleaded fuel would make a difference in how my car ran.  Yes, the tank would be full… but full of the wrong fuel.  I’m not saying that we should stop feeding people altogether, we should just ensure we are feeding them what their bodies need.  Providing no fuel doesn’t generate momentum in the right direction either.

Healthy, balanced diets can help reduce the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers (not to mention help in overall health and happiness!).  If we provide those needing food assistance with food that increases their risk for illnesses and disease, we may be decreasing their grocery budget and feeding them in the short-term, but drastically increasing their medical bills in the long-term.  We would be providing food, but hurting their health.

1 in 3 lbs fruit or veggie 300x300 You are what you eat: Why Food Insecurity is a Public Health Issue.

The great news is that health and hunger are no longer seen as completely separate issues (as they have often been in the past).  Feeding America started www.healthyfoodbankhub.org in 2013 as a place to share how food banks support health and to share nutrition-related resources among their partners.  In addition, last month Feeding America and HMS Holding Corp. also hosted a Virtual Town Hall on the issue. Locally, NTFB makes sure to offer an inventory full of all MyPlate food groups, focusing on nutrient-rich foods.  Over 1 in 3 pounds that NTFB distributes is a fruit or vegetable and 1 in 4 pounds is fresh produce. To top this off, free nutrition education is provided to low-income clients, helping support them in their journey towards a happy, healthy and hunger-free life!

There are certainly more challenges to address, policies to enact, collaborations to make, research to do and programs to pilot in order to fully eradicate food insecurity and associated, preventable health problems, but at least we’re pointed in the right direction.  Join us in pursuing a healthy and hunger-free community!


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August 25, 2014
by Jan Pruitt

In North Texas, the Face of Hunger May Surprise You…

August 25, 2014
by Jan Pruitt

The Face of Hunger may surprise you 1024x1024 In North Texas, the Face of Hunger May Surprise You...

by Jan Pruitt, President and CEO of NTFB

We’ve all felt hunger pangs – that growling from our stomach reminding us that it’s time to eat. If you don’t heed these warnings, you know you’ll likely get tired and it will be hard to focus. If you wait too long to eat, you become ravenous and can eat anything.  But when those pangs hit, many of us can reach into our refrigerators or pantries and find something to refuel our drained bodies.

What if the hunger pangs hit and you reached for food, but there was nothing there. Worse yet, what if your children felt this hunger, and looked to you to make it better, but you had nothing of real sustenance to feed them?

Perhaps you have been lucky enough to have never experienced food insecurity firsthand, but the unfortunate truth is that likely someone you know has worried about how to feed their family.

Hunger in America 2014, a new study released last week by Feeding America and the North Texas Food Bank, shows that every year more than 46 million Americans, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors, receive food assistance through the Feeding America network of food banks. In North Texas, more than 439,000 men, women and children turn to NTFB and its Partner Agencies for food assistance each year.

This number represents people like Arnold, a father of two young girls who found himself temporarily disabled after serious medical procedures. Without a steady income, he fed his family only through assistance from Seven Loaves Community, a NTFB Partner Agency in Plano. Or Roene, a senior who cares full time for her ailing husband and turns to Sharing Life Community Outreach in Mesquite to put food on the table.

HIA infographic final In North Texas, the Face of Hunger May Surprise You...

Contrary to some stereotypes, hunger is not a problem limited to the homeless and the uneducated. Ninety-five percent of clients we serve have permanent housing and 74 percent have a high school diploma or higher. Despite having an education and a roof over their heads, many families can’t make ends meet.

As President and CEO of NTFB and Board Chair for Feeding America, my work puts me on the front lines of the fight against hunger. I have seen the consequences of not having enough to eat.  Children are particularly vulnerable to these consequences, including adverse physical, behavioral and mental health effects due to insufficient nutrition. Through the study, we know we serve at least 125,000 children through our grocery/pantry programs; this doesn’t include the 11,000 children served through our Food 4 Kids program that provides backpacks with nutritious food for the weekend to chronically hungry children each Friday during the school year. As the new school year kicks off, we are reminded that the work we do to feed children is critical to the future of our community.

In addition, we’ve learned that many of the families we serve are facing health issues. Hunger in America 2014 found that 59 percent of households that use the NTFB network have a person with high blood pressure, and 33 percent report a member with diabetes. These conditions are only exacerbated by a lack of proper nutrition. Of the households who turn to NTFB’s network, 68 percent report having to choose between paying for food or paying for medical care.

Despite reports of declining unemployment rates and signs of a strengthening economy, NTFB and our agencies continue to see a persistent need.  Stagnant wages and underemployment play a role in this continuing struggle; the study finds that 73 percent of NTFB clients have incomes below the poverty level – for a family of four that means $23,850 or less.

These surprising new statistics are a wake-up call. We must work together to solve hunger in our community. We must work together so that families like Arnold’s and Roene’s have enough to eat. Take a stand against hunger. When you realize the true face of hunger in America and in North Texas, how can you remain silent?


Jan Pruitt is the President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank and the Board Chair for Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization. Follow Jan on Twitter  and Facebook.

The Face of Hunger may surprise you 1024x1024 In North Texas, the Face of Hunger May Surprise You...

by Jan Pruitt, President and CEO of NTFB

We’ve all felt hunger pangs – that growling from our stomach reminding us that it’s time to eat. If you don’t heed these warnings, you know you’ll likely get tired and it will be hard to focus. If you wait too long to eat, you become ravenous and can eat anything.  But when those pangs hit, many of us can reach into our refrigerators or pantries and find something to refuel our drained bodies.

What if the hunger pangs hit and you reached for food, but there was nothing there. Worse yet, what if your children felt this hunger, and looked to you to make it better, but you had nothing of real sustenance to feed them?

Perhaps you have been lucky enough to have never experienced food insecurity firsthand, but the unfortunate truth is that likely someone you know has worried about how to feed their family.

Hunger in America 2014, a new study released last week by Feeding America and the North Texas Food Bank, shows that every year more than 46 million Americans, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors, receive food assistance through the Feeding America network of food banks. In North Texas, more than 439,000 men, women and children turn to NTFB and its Partner Agencies for food assistance each year.

This number represents people like Arnold, a father of two young girls who found himself temporarily disabled after serious medical procedures. Without a steady income, he fed his family only through assistance from Seven Loaves Community, a NTFB Partner Agency in Plano. Or Roene, a senior who cares full time for her ailing husband and turns to Sharing Life Community Outreach in Mesquite to put food on the table.

HIA infographic final In North Texas, the Face of Hunger May Surprise You...

Contrary to some stereotypes, hunger is not a problem limited to the homeless and the uneducated. Ninety-five percent of clients we serve have permanent housing and 74 percent have a high school diploma or higher. Despite having an education and a roof over their heads, many families can’t make ends meet.

As President and CEO of NTFB and Board Chair for Feeding America, my work puts me on the front lines of the fight against hunger. I have seen the consequences of not having enough to eat.  Children are particularly vulnerable to these consequences, including adverse physical, behavioral and mental health effects due to insufficient nutrition. Through the study, we know we serve at least 125,000 children through our grocery/pantry programs; this doesn’t include the 11,000 children served through our Food 4 Kids program that provides backpacks with nutritious food for the weekend to chronically hungry children each Friday during the school year. As the new school year kicks off, we are reminded that the work we do to feed children is critical to the future of our community.

In addition, we’ve learned that many of the families we serve are facing health issues. Hunger in America 2014 found that 59 percent of households that use the NTFB network have a person with high blood pressure, and 33 percent report a member with diabetes. These conditions are only exacerbated by a lack of proper nutrition. Of the households who turn to NTFB’s network, 68 percent report having to choose between paying for food or paying for medical care.

Despite reports of declining unemployment rates and signs of a strengthening economy, NTFB and our agencies continue to see a persistent need.  Stagnant wages and underemployment play a role in this continuing struggle; the study finds that 73 percent of NTFB clients have incomes below the poverty level – for a family of four that means $23,850 or less.

These surprising new statistics are a wake-up call. We must work together to solve hunger in our community. We must work together so that families like Arnold’s and Roene’s have enough to eat. Take a stand against hunger. When you realize the true face of hunger in America and in North Texas, how can you remain silent?


Jan Pruitt is the President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank and the Board Chair for Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization. Follow Jan on Twitter  and Facebook.


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August 05, 2014
by Lucas Campbell

Growing Benefits for Hungry Seniors

August 05, 2014
by Lucas Campbell
by Lucas Campbell, NTFB Social Services Team Lead of Senior Outreach

I have had the privilege of working at the North Texas Food Bank for the last 4 years, helping people understand and apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”). And, while we have had great success and helped far more people than I ever could have imagined, it has been challenging to find a way to increase SNAP participation among hungry seniors.

Growing Benefits 300x235 Growing Benefits for Hungry Seniors

Seniors are a fast-growing population, as the baby boomer generation enters their senior years.  As this population grows, the concern also grows about their food security; according to Feeding America, in 2011, 4.8 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure.

Unfortunately, not all seniors who are food insecure are accessing the assistance they need.  In Dallas County alone, 57% of those seniors eligible for SNAP are not receiving it. That’s nearly 20,000 seniors who are missing out on the opportunity to have more food on the table.

Over time and through many honest conversations we discovered that the reason many of these seniors are hesitant to apply for SNAP is due to the misconceptions they have about what used to be called the “food stamps” program.

Here are some common misconceptions we hear from seniors:

  • “It’s embarrassing to use Food Stamps.”
  • “I don’t want a handout from the government.”
  • “I don’t want to take away from someone else who needs it.”
  • “It’s not worth it, if I’m only going to get $16 a month.”

Here are some reasons why we know that these misconceptions are inaccurate:

  • The SNAP program is not like the old Food Stamp Program. You no longer have to pull out a book of stamps, or use coupons to pay for your food. SNAP benefits come on an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card. It’s very discreet. The people behind you in line don’t even know you’re using it. Lone Star Card Growing Benefits for Hungry Seniors
  • SNAP is funded by tax payer dollars, just like Social Security. If you’ve paid taxes, you’ve paid into the SNAP program.
  • Everyone that qualifies for SNAP receives it. No one takes benefits away from anyone else. There are currently 1.7 billion dollars of unclaimed benefits.
  • The average individual SNAP benefit amount is $105. Even if you receive $16 per month, most people aren’t aware that you can let your benefits accumulate. You don’t have to spend it all in one month. If you let your card sit for 6 months, you’d have $96 on it! That’s a nice trip to the grocery store.
  • Medical expenses can also be used as a deduction if you are over the age of 60 or disabled. This could increase your benefit amount or even make the difference in whether or not you qualify.

We would be thankful to address all of these SNAP myths, but the challenge is getting the conversation started.  Most of these misgivings are so deeply rooted that we found it hard to even start the conversation.

For this very reason the Growing Benefits program was created early this year. Growing Benefits works to educate seniors about SNAP, to start the conversation, and we do that by educating them about gardening.

At first, SNAP and gardening might not sound like they have a lot of similarities, but people can actually buy seeds for a garden using SNAP benefits. SNAP can also be used to shop at farmer’s markets. We educate seniors on the benefits of growing their own food (indoors or outdoors). We talk about the physical benefits of eating healthier, social benefits of becoming involved in a community garden, and the financial benefits (because seeds are cheaper than produce).

While we have their ear, we also educate them about how they can grow their SNAP benefits. We break down the myths and eliminate the barriers that keep so many seniors from applying. Growing Benefits is a great way to make sure that no one gets left out, because the fight against hunger becomes a little easier when people understand the resources available to them.

The Growing Benefits program is always in need of volunteers. We need everyone from gardeners willing to share their expertise, to people who can spend an hour putting information packets together. If you’d like to get involved, or just want more information on the Growing Benefits or SNAP outreach, visit the NTFB Volunteer page at www.ntfb.org/volunteer and look for “Social Services Outreach” or email snap@ntfb.org.

If you need assistance accessing food in the Dallas and surrounding areas, visit www.ntfb.org/snap.

by Lucas Campbell, NTFB Social Services Team Lead of Senior Outreach

I have had the privilege of working at the North Texas Food Bank for the last 4 years, helping people understand and apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”). And, while we have had great success and helped far more people than I ever could have imagined, it has been challenging to find a way to increase SNAP participation among hungry seniors.

Growing Benefits 300x235 Growing Benefits for Hungry Seniors

Seniors are a fast-growing population, as the baby boomer generation enters their senior years.  As this population grows, the concern also grows about their food security; according to Feeding America, in 2011, 4.8 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure.

Unfortunately, not all seniors who are food insecure are accessing the assistance they need.  In Dallas County alone, 57% of those seniors eligible for SNAP are not receiving it. That’s nearly 20,000 seniors who are missing out on the opportunity to have more food on the table.

Over time and through many honest conversations we discovered that the reason many of these seniors are hesitant to apply for SNAP is due to the misconceptions they have about what used to be called the “food stamps” program.

Here are some common misconceptions we hear from seniors:

  • “It’s embarrassing to use Food Stamps.”
  • “I don’t want a handout from the government.”
  • “I don’t want to take away from someone else who needs it.”
  • “It’s not worth it, if I’m only going to get $16 a month.”

Here are some reasons why we know that these misconceptions are inaccurate:

  • The SNAP program is not like the old Food Stamp Program. You no longer have to pull out a book of stamps, or use coupons to pay for your food. SNAP benefits come on an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card. It’s very discreet. The people behind you in line don’t even know you’re using it. Lone Star Card Growing Benefits for Hungry Seniors
  • SNAP is funded by tax payer dollars, just like Social Security. If you’ve paid taxes, you’ve paid into the SNAP program.
  • Everyone that qualifies for SNAP receives it. No one takes benefits away from anyone else. There are currently 1.7 billion dollars of unclaimed benefits.
  • The average individual SNAP benefit amount is $105. Even if you receive $16 per month, most people aren’t aware that you can let your benefits accumulate. You don’t have to spend it all in one month. If you let your card sit for 6 months, you’d have $96 on it! That’s a nice trip to the grocery store.
  • Medical expenses can also be used as a deduction if you are over the age of 60 or disabled. This could increase your benefit amount or even make the difference in whether or not you qualify.

We would be thankful to address all of these SNAP myths, but the challenge is getting the conversation started.  Most of these misgivings are so deeply rooted that we found it hard to even start the conversation.

For this very reason the Growing Benefits program was created early this year. Growing Benefits works to educate seniors about SNAP, to start the conversation, and we do that by educating them about gardening.

At first, SNAP and gardening might not sound like they have a lot of similarities, but people can actually buy seeds for a garden using SNAP benefits. SNAP can also be used to shop at farmer’s markets. We educate seniors on the benefits of growing their own food (indoors or outdoors). We talk about the physical benefits of eating healthier, social benefits of becoming involved in a community garden, and the financial benefits (because seeds are cheaper than produce).

While we have their ear, we also educate them about how they can grow their SNAP benefits. We break down the myths and eliminate the barriers that keep so many seniors from applying. Growing Benefits is a great way to make sure that no one gets left out, because the fight against hunger becomes a little easier when people understand the resources available to them.

The Growing Benefits program is always in need of volunteers. We need everyone from gardeners willing to share their expertise, to people who can spend an hour putting information packets together. If you’d like to get involved, or just want more information on the Growing Benefits or SNAP outreach, visit the NTFB Volunteer page at www.ntfb.org/volunteer and look for “Social Services Outreach” or email snap@ntfb.org.

If you need assistance accessing food in the Dallas and surrounding areas, visit www.ntfb.org/snap.


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July 15, 2014
by Diana Carranza

July 15 – National Call-In Day for H.R. 4719

July 15, 2014
by Diana Carranza

 
This week, Congress will vote on legislation that would improve federal tax incentives for donating food and funds to food banks and other nonprofits. Help us make sure NTFB and food banks across the country have the resources they need to help struggling Americans by calling your Representative today!

H.R. 4719 300x300 July 15   National Call In Day for H.R. 4719
Call 1-888-398-8702 and enter your zip code when prompted to connect to your Representative. Tell them this important message:

“[Share your name and city.] As your constituent and supporter of the North Texas Food Bank, I am calling you today to ask you to support H.R. 4719, the food donation tax legislation that would help our food bank feed struggling Americans. Please support this and other charitable giving tax legislation that would help ensure our food bank has the food and the funds needed to continue supporting those in need in our community.”

Then help us further by SHARING this post! Thanks as always for your support of the fight against hunger in North Texas!
 
Click here for more information on H.R. 4719: Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 .
 
Read the Letter that Feeding America sent to Congress.
 
 

 
This week, Congress will vote on legislation that would improve federal tax incentives for donating food and funds to food banks and other nonprofits. Help us make sure NTFB and food banks across the country have the resources they need to help struggling Americans by calling your Representative today!

H.R. 4719 300x300 July 15   National Call In Day for H.R. 4719
Call 1-888-398-8702 and enter your zip code when prompted to connect to your Representative. Tell them this important message:

“[Share your name and city.] As your constituent and supporter of the North Texas Food Bank, I am calling you today to ask you to support H.R. 4719, the food donation tax legislation that would help our food bank feed struggling Americans. Please support this and other charitable giving tax legislation that would help ensure our food bank has the food and the funds needed to continue supporting those in need in our community.”

Then help us further by SHARING this post! Thanks as always for your support of the fight against hunger in North Texas!
 
Click here for more information on H.R. 4719: Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 .
 
Read the Letter that Feeding America sent to Congress.
 
 


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