Hunger: Brazos Valley Food Bank

2013 Issues
May 23, 2013
Publisher’s Desk
January 5, 2014

by Adam Amaya

Update August 21, 2013: The Brazos Valley Food Bank is currently taking donations for the annual Feeding Hope  Sponsorship Campaign. Feeding Hope asks the public to sponsor food-filled backpacks for kids, supplemental bags of food for homebound seniors, as well as food for the Mobile Food Pantries which provides food to areas of high need. To get involved or learn more about the programs with the Brazos Valley Food Bank, visit http://www.bvfb.org/programs.html 
 

The Brazos Valley Food Bank has been a primary contributor to the fight against hunger, stocking the shelves of countless food pantries and other feeding programs across the Brazos Valley. In the past year, the food bank distributed 3.8 million pounds of food to their hunger-relief partners: it may seem like a tremendous amount, but sadly, it is not enough. According to the Food Bank, they have experienced a nearly 150 percent increase in demand for food in the past five years as more residents find themselves in a situation where visiting a feeding program is necessary to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, an average of one-in-six Brazos Valley households is at risk of hunger. Even more alarming is the fact that if the household includes children, the risk of hunger increases to one out of four.
Reflecting on the issue at hand, Food Bank Executive Director Theresa Mangapora says, “Although we distributed nearly four million pounds of food, there continues to be more demand than we can meet.  We simply do not have enough space to accept all the donations available to us, and the variety of food we would like to have, which directly impacts the individuals and families of the Brazos Valley who are in need.”
As a result, the Food Bank has launched the “Because Hunger Won’t Wait,” a $2.5 million Capital Campaign warehouse expansion project. The project will enable the Food Bank to accept and distribute more than triple the amount of dry food it can currently handle and increase the amount of fresh and frozen food available for those in need by five times. With a larger building—along with new high-capacity refrigerators and freezers—the Food Bank will become more efficient and effective.
While most of us have never had to worry about having food on the table, tens of thousands of Brazos Valley residents annually are faced with a problem known as “food insecurity”— households that lack consistent access to adequate food for one or more household members.  This problem not only leaves children and adults with empty stomachs, but also affects many aspects of their lives. Without an adequate amount of food—if any— children cannot learn and adults cannot work productively. The expansion will help solve this problem.
Mangapora, who has been serving as the Food Bank’s Executive Director since 2005, says, “When I first came here, I never thought we would outgrow our warehouse, but we have. It’s very disheartening that we need to expand our building because that means more people are in need. We need donations as soon as possible  – we can do so much more but we’re limited by space.”
In her first year at the Food Bank, the Food Bank distributed 1.7 million pounds of food. Now in her eighth year, that number has skyrocketed to nearly four million.
The drastic increase in the amount of food the Food Bank is distributing to partner agencies also reflects the hard economic times. Despite misconceptions, those in need visit a feeding program on average 3.5 times in a year, receiving less than 75 lbs. of food each year. The Food Bank and the agencies and programs it supports are a safety net for those who have fallen on hard-times, not an entitlement that individuals live off of day-to-day, week-to-week.
Currently, the Food Bank’s “Because Hunger Won’t Wait” Capital Campaign has raised nearly 45 percent of necessary funds they need for the expansion project. Once they have 50 percent of the funds, they plan to break ground and begin building.
Mangapora says, “There are many ways people can help support our ‘Because Hunger Won’t Wait’ Capital Campaign. The immediate need is monetary donations to the campaign.  We are willing to present our case to anyone – businesses, foundations, churches, civic groups. If a major gift is not possible, the Because Hunger Won’t Wait Square Foot Campaign may appeal to you. A $75 dollar donation pays for a square foot of the expansion. In addition, we would love people to educate others about this important project.”
With a sense of urgency resonating through her voice, Mangapora added, “Residents of the Brazos Valley deserve a Food Bank that can do more. With this expansion, the possibilities are endless.”