December 14, 2014
by Brighter Bites team

1,800 Families Served through Brighter Bites Dallas

December 14, 2014
by Brighter Bites team

By Kristin Michalewicz, NTFB Brighter Bites Coordinator

After eight weeks of hard work and healthy eating, the Brighter Bites Dallas team has wrapped up our first fall semester!  Brighter Bites provided access to 30 pounds of fresh produce each week along with weekly nutrition education, recipes, and a fun food experience!  During the eight weeks, we were able to bring healthier choices to our families which had a significant impact in their homes, schools, and communities.  One mother of three and a weekly volunteer at John Q. Adams Elementary, Elizabeth Salazar, absolutely loved Brighter Bites and the positive influence it had on her family!

BB Blog 1024x669 1,800 Families Served through Brighter Bites Dallas

Elizabeth & her family

Brighter Bites aims to feed with impact by providing access to fresh produce and increasing food literacy with fun and informative nutrition education materials.  Elizabeth was able to use the 30 pounds of produce, provided by NTFB, each week to make delicious and nutritious meals for her family.  She said, “With the fresh produce I received, I can cook for my whole family and everybody is happy!”  With three growing children, Elizabeth was able to stretch her weekly grocery budget to ensure her kids had nutritious meals and full bellies.

BB Blog2 1024x575 1,800 Families Served through Brighter Bites Dallas

Cheese Stuffed Zucchini that Elizabeth made

 

NTFB and Brighter Bites impacted 1,800 families this semester, in a total of nine Dallas schools!  Each week, together NTFB and Brighter Bites distributed 54,000 pounds of fresh produce to our 1,800 families; throughout the whole semester, that totaled 432,000 pounds of freshness, crispiness, and crunchiness!

Elizabeth puts it best, saying: “The program is awesome because it’s nice to help and be helped at the same time!”  We can’t wait to get back in the swing of things and bring more color and crunch to our families in the spring of 2015!

 

By Kristin Michalewicz, NTFB Brighter Bites Coordinator

After eight weeks of hard work and healthy eating, the Brighter Bites Dallas team has wrapped up our first fall semester!  Brighter Bites provided access to 30 pounds of fresh produce each week along with weekly nutrition education, recipes, and a fun food experience!  During the eight weeks, we were able to bring healthier choices to our families which had a significant impact in their homes, schools, and communities.  One mother of three and a weekly volunteer at John Q. Adams Elementary, Elizabeth Salazar, absolutely loved Brighter Bites and the positive influence it had on her family!

BB Blog 1024x669 1,800 Families Served through Brighter Bites Dallas

Elizabeth & her family

Brighter Bites aims to feed with impact by providing access to fresh produce and increasing food literacy with fun and informative nutrition education materials.  Elizabeth was able to use the 30 pounds of produce, provided by NTFB, each week to make delicious and nutritious meals for her family.  She said, “With the fresh produce I received, I can cook for my whole family and everybody is happy!”  With three growing children, Elizabeth was able to stretch her weekly grocery budget to ensure her kids had nutritious meals and full bellies.

BB Blog2 1024x575 1,800 Families Served through Brighter Bites Dallas

Cheese Stuffed Zucchini that Elizabeth made

 

NTFB and Brighter Bites impacted 1,800 families this semester, in a total of nine Dallas schools!  Each week, together NTFB and Brighter Bites distributed 54,000 pounds of fresh produce to our 1,800 families; throughout the whole semester, that totaled 432,000 pounds of freshness, crispiness, and crunchiness!

Elizabeth puts it best, saying: “The program is awesome because it’s nice to help and be helped at the same time!”  We can’t wait to get back in the swing of things and bring more color and crunch to our families in the spring of 2015!

 


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December 11, 2014
by Kat Lindholm

Eating Tips for the Holidays

December 11, 2014
by Kat Lindholm

by Katherine Lindholm, RD, Nutrition Services Manager
 
The holidays are here, and with the fun comes the challenges of eating healthfully in the midst of snacks, holiday cookies, casseroles, and much more! Check out some ways to keep those pounds off while still enjoying the foods that make the holidays memorable.
 
ON NOW 4 300x300 Eating Tips for the Holidays

5 Ways to Fight Holiday Pounds
1. Use smaller plates.You can always go back to get seconds, but it will be a conscious decision as opposed to mindless eating.
2. Eat breakfast. Don’t save your appetite for the holiday dinner.
3. Exercise. Play your own game of football instead of watching it on TV.
4. Put away the food after meals. This reduces the temptation to keep eating.
5. Enjoy your food…slowly. Sit down and take time to appreciate your meal (and those sharing the meal!). Savor each bite.
 
 
Healthful Holiday Foods
Holiday foods may have a bad reputation, but they are not all bad for your health! As you give presents to those you love, think of what food can give you this holiday season! Focus on finding nutrient dense holiday foods, including:

- Nuts: protein, healthy fats, fiber
- Sweet Potatoes: vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber
- Green Beans: vitamin A, C, K, manganese, potassium, folate, iron
- Pumpkins: vitamin A, fiber, low in calories and fat (unless added)
- Turkey: lean protein (pass on the skin)
 
On behalf of the Nutrition Services Team and NTFB, thank you for your support of the fight against hunger in North Texas! We hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season! May you have every nutrient you need, and may they all be delicious!

Holiday 4 Eating Tips for the Holidays


Food insecurity and health issues often go hand-in-hand, so the North Texas Food Bank works to take health and nutrition into consideration while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community. NTFB’s Nutrition Services team ensures that feeding programs take the nutritional needs of our clients into account. In addition to providing access to nutritious foods, NTFB also works to teach familes, individuals and children about eating nutritiously on a budget.

by Katherine Lindholm, RD, Nutrition Services Manager
 
The holidays are here, and with the fun comes the challenges of eating healthfully in the midst of snacks, holiday cookies, casseroles, and much more! Check out some ways to keep those pounds off while still enjoying the foods that make the holidays memorable.
 
ON NOW 4 300x300 Eating Tips for the Holidays

5 Ways to Fight Holiday Pounds
1. Use smaller plates.You can always go back to get seconds, but it will be a conscious decision as opposed to mindless eating.
2. Eat breakfast. Don’t save your appetite for the holiday dinner.
3. Exercise. Play your own game of football instead of watching it on TV.
4. Put away the food after meals. This reduces the temptation to keep eating.
5. Enjoy your food…slowly. Sit down and take time to appreciate your meal (and those sharing the meal!). Savor each bite.
 
 
Healthful Holiday Foods
Holiday foods may have a bad reputation, but they are not all bad for your health! As you give presents to those you love, think of what food can give you this holiday season! Focus on finding nutrient dense holiday foods, including:

- Nuts: protein, healthy fats, fiber
- Sweet Potatoes: vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber
- Green Beans: vitamin A, C, K, manganese, potassium, folate, iron
- Pumpkins: vitamin A, fiber, low in calories and fat (unless added)
- Turkey: lean protein (pass on the skin)
 
On behalf of the Nutrition Services Team and NTFB, thank you for your support of the fight against hunger in North Texas! We hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season! May you have every nutrient you need, and may they all be delicious!

Holiday 4 Eating Tips for the Holidays


Food insecurity and health issues often go hand-in-hand, so the North Texas Food Bank works to take health and nutrition into consideration while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community. NTFB’s Nutrition Services team ensures that feeding programs take the nutritional needs of our clients into account. In addition to providing access to nutritious foods, NTFB also works to teach familes, individuals and children about eating nutritiously on a budget.


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December 08, 2014
by Diana Carranza

Ask Congress to pass Charitable Tax Extenders

December 08, 2014
by Diana Carranza


Call your representatives to help us get more food on the table for hungry North Texans!

Charitable Tax Extenders1 Ask Congress to pass Charitable Tax Extenders

NTFB and hunger relief organizations across the country need your voice to persuade Congress to take action and maintain charitable tax extenders.

The session is nearly over, but we need Congress to keep food donation tax deductions and other charitable tax provisions. These charitable tax extenders will make a significant impact on our ability to secure more food, particularly produce.

Help us by calling Congress today and tomorrow and spreading this action alert with your local networks.

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 senator, 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:

As your constituent and a supporter of the North Texas Food Bank, I am calling you today to ask you to pass the charitable tax extenders before Congress adjourns for the year.  This legislation would help ensure our food bank has the food and the funds needed to continue supporting those in need in our community.

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

You can make a difference for hungry children and families in North Texas, amplify our reach and spread the word about this initiative via social media.

Thank you for supporting the North Texas Food Bank and the clients we serve.


Call your representatives to help us get more food on the table for hungry North Texans!

Charitable Tax Extenders1 Ask Congress to pass Charitable Tax Extenders

NTFB and hunger relief organizations across the country need your voice to persuade Congress to take action and maintain charitable tax extenders.

The session is nearly over, but we need Congress to keep food donation tax deductions and other charitable tax provisions. These charitable tax extenders will make a significant impact on our ability to secure more food, particularly produce.

Help us by calling Congress today and tomorrow and spreading this action alert with your local networks.

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 senator, 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:

As your constituent and a supporter of the North Texas Food Bank, I am calling you today to ask you to pass the charitable tax extenders before Congress adjourns for the year.  This legislation would help ensure our food bank has the food and the funds needed to continue supporting those in need in our community.

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

You can make a difference for hungry children and families in North Texas, amplify our reach and spread the word about this initiative via social media.

Thank you for supporting the North Texas Food Bank and the clients we serve.


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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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