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The South Plains Food Bank Farm does what?!?

 

This was the question I loudly exclaimed upon finding out about the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) shares our farm offers to the community.

As the newly-hired Communications and Digital Marketing manager, there was a lot I was still learning about the South Plains Food Bank, and let's face it, I was still a little "green". There were so many (amazing) programs I was still learning about and the idea of a farm to help the hungry left me speechless. (I wish you could have seen my expression when I found out we have a farm!) The city girl in me was a little overwhelmed, but once I found out the address, I decided to make the trek over there to see what it was all about. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I can tell you it wasn't what I thought. As I walked up to the sweet smell of saturated soil, and lovely herbs, the last thing I was expecting were the amount of youth that filled the farm around me. There was a group on the patio, and in the field; in the building and walking around. There were so many! I walked up to a group sitting in chairs surrounding a barrel of zucchini and observed them. They seemed so happy to be outside, laughing and bagging zucchini. "What are those for?" I asked. "They're for the CSA's," a dark haired girl with glasses piped up without missing the rhythmic beat of her work. "The CSA's?" I asked. And then my world opened up.

I hadn’t heard of an organization that literally utilized every thinkable way to make an impact in the lives of the hungry in our community. We have an orchard to grow apples to give to the hungry, and we have a farm run by at-risk youth who participate in the GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business) program. This program takes at-risk kids and leads them on the journey to plant, grow, harvest, create and donate their vegetables at the farm. Half of what is grown at the farm goes right into food boxes to feed the hungry, and the other half is collected for CSA shares. The food from the farm is: grown using organic inputs, grown locally, vine ripened, and you know who is growing it! As soon as I found out I could afford fresh, weekly produce grown by kids who were actively trying to pursue and grow on the right track, the only question I asked was, “Where do I sign?” One week later, I had my first CSA and a great co-worker (Melissa Henderson, Director of Development) to help me cook it!

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Loaded with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, corn, beans, carrots, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, oh my! When the overambitious thought of needing to eat everything tonight simmered down, I sat down and earnestly thought about what to do with my treasure. This is what came of my adventure!

The first course we thought up was a simple tomato and cucumber salad. Lightly tossed in olive oil and sea salt, this was fantastic, and so healthy. I never knew cucumbers grew as big as the ones I received from the farm!

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The second course utilized the squash and the corn that overwhelmed our CSA. Melissa had a great stuffed summer squash recipe that was sure to be amazing! We halved our squash, carved it out and stuffed it with herbs, Ritz crackers, and corn. We drizzled some cheese over it and threw it in the oven, and Voila!

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Our final course was a no-brainer. With onions, carrots, garlic, and zucchini we figured a roast was definitely needed to offset our veggiebonanza. We topped it with herbs and a little bit of a red wine label that makes a contribution to the food bank network with every purchase, and we had a dinner that was good for us and helped the cause!

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Whether it was the CSA vegetables, or our hard work, I can say dinner that night was the best I ever had. There was just something more than spices and flavor in the food I was savoring: It was knowing that the food I received was helping and touching so many people all the way around.

Bon Appetit!

For more information about our CSA shares, contact Maxine Asmah at: masmah@spfb.org

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Building a Hunger-Free Community

 

It's Possible!

Thanks to a significant grant from the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Foundation, the South Plains Food Bank is building a new facility. Join us Tuesday, April 29th as we Break Ground and dream of a hunger-free future.

Ground Breaking Invite final

Bike4Grub (a sneak preview)

 
Susan Tomlinson, a writer and teacher at Texas Tech University is a bicyclist and gardener.  She's working with the South Plains Food Bank to Bike4Grub raising funds for our youth garden program, GRUB, or Growing Recruits for Urban Business. 
Join us for this year's event and learn more on Susan's blog, www.thebikegarden.com:
You may remember that a few years ago I rode 2011 miles for the South Plains Food Bank, and in the process raised over $5000 for their GRUB farm. It started as a motivator for me to get into shape, but it turned into something a lot more meaningful along the way.... (Continue reading at http://www.thebikegarden.com)
Bike 4 Grub Poster

Tuba Players Catch Earns Food Bank Donation and Laughs

 

This letter recently landed on my desk and I couldn’t help but share.  Visualizing this scenario just makes me giggle!  Thank you Jerry and Jeanie Koch for sharing your story and for the $100 donation!  

Hi Lyn,

The enclosed is sort of the result of a challenge I issued in my freshman sociology class.  There are several members of the Goin’ Band in the class and I’m a big fan.

At the games, the band sits in the South end-zone and the tuba players are in the top row.  That is close to where the football winds up after extra-point kicks.

So I thought it would be funny if one of the tuba players actually caught the kicked football IN THEIR TUBA.

 So I issued the challenge.  I told the band members in my class to tell the tuba players that I would give $100 to the Food Bank if they ever did this.  And last Saturday at the Oklahoma State game, one of them did.

So here’s $100.  I’m paying up.

All the best,

Jerry and Jeanie Koch

 

Goin' Band

We love the Goin' Band.  They made a huge presence at this year's Wreck Hunger Food Drive and we were so impressed with their enthusiasm to raise donations by playing music live for passer-bys... Now that we know the tuba players can catch footballs in thier horns we're even more impressed.

 

YOU ARE INVITED

 
Open House Invite
Join us!

Wrecking Hunger with a little help from my friends

 
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My name is Lynn Weir and I am the Food Resource Coordinator for the South Plains Food Bank. Several months ago I was given the task to plan, organize, and to be in charge of our 30 Hour Food Drive for 2013. I said “Okay” and had the deer in the headlights look I am quite sure!

I set two goals for myself. One: to get the Texas Tech community involved. And two: to get some food donated.

How do we get Tech involved? “Instead of Wreck 'Em Tech, let's name it Wreck Hunger.” I wanted to attract the Tech community, so who better to do it than Tech students? What do Tech students like to do best after studying? Party. I said, “Let's have a tailgate party!”

We planned the first “Wreck Hunger” with a 30 hour tailgate party and a planning committee comprised 95% of Tech students.   Tailgating could start on Thursday night before the TCU game which Tech would wreck, and then continue Friday and Saturday. Has to work, right?!

 I was at the game Thursday night, when it was extremely close, sat down and honestly prayed, "God I know this isn't the type of thing you are supposed to pray for, but PLEASE let Tech pull this out. Of course I want Tech to win, but I need the community and Tech to be in a very good mood these next two days, feeling very generous. How else am I going to be able to get food for the hungry?"

My prayers were answered!  Tech wrecked TCU! And with help from our friends, the South Plains Food Bank wrecked hunger!

We accomplished so incredibly much more than just Wrecking Hunger.  When I use the term "we", I am not only talking about the people at the Food Bank, but the Texas Tech community, businesses in Lubbock, the Lubbock community, and numerous volunteers.

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I chose a goal of 3,500 pounds of food for us to collect, thinking this is a probably on the high side for just 30 hours of a food drive, but you have to be optimistic.  My goal was totally exceeded! We collected 27,361 pounds of food and had $1,640.14 donated, which equates to 29,362 meals on the South Plains! 

One lady stopped me and asked me if I were with the Food Bank and I said yes. She said this was one of the best events she had ever been to. “It was a very family friendly environment for a tailgate party, which her young children could attend, but above all else, it was for a very good cause.”

 A homeless man came to the event with his wife and backpack. We were giving away hot dogs and hamburgers Saturday at lunch. He and his wife each ate a couple of hamburgers and hot dogs and took some with them. They went to our beverage cart where we had drinks and sweets, and topped their back packs off with drinks and desserts. When Coach Kliff Kingsbury made an appearance on Saturday, the gentlemen went up to shake Coach Kingsbury's hand. I stood and watched Coach Kingsbury look the man in the eye, as if he were the only fan around, and shake his hand. The man's life was made. He went over to my husband and was like a little child at Christmas! He got to meet and shake the hand of Kliff Kingsbury!  The same man came to the food bank today, for the first time, and was still holding his autograph of Kliff Kingsbury.  

During his appearance, Coach Kingsbury's assistant asked me to try to keep things orderly, and would tell me we only have about 10 more minutes, 4 more minutes, etc, as Coach had a staff meeting at 2:00. I would say “ok guys, only 4 more minutes, one more person,” etc. When we said “that's all,” Coach Kingsbury stopped and continued to sign more autographs and take pictures. Does Tech have the best football coach or what?

Lyn and Kliff

Raider Red and the Masked Rider with Fearless Champion were also there on Saturday and parents got photos with their children and these remarkable icons. Trust me. Not only small children were having their pictures made!

The Lady Raider Basketball team made an appearance on Friday and brought close to 3,000 pounds of food they collected!  

The men's baseball team came out, helped us load one of our trucks with food and made a little boys day. A little boy around 5 or 6 who is passionate about baseball approached the team to meet them. He got some pointers from the team and then found out that he had a better swing than some of the Red Raiders! This is the honest truth!

Tubby Smith came out Friday, on his way home to just stop by and check us out! Did he have to do this? Of course not!

Jon Murray, the Cross Country Coach came by on Saturday.

The Saddle Tramps came out, held a pep rally for us, and every time someone donated food, rang their bells and Bangin' Bertha!

Members of the Goin' Band pretty much played non-stop Saturday. On a purely selfish side, I was very honored, when I walked out of the store from getting a drink, and the band began playing Happy Birthday to me! Now how many people can say the Goin' Band has serenaded them!

We had the Reagor-Dykes Hummer at the event and a little boy came up to me and asked if he could sit in the Hummer. I said of course. He got behind the wheel and was off to the races (in his mind). He got out jumping up and down, squealing that he got to drive a real Hummer!

A sixth grader here in Lubbock helped us do a live TV appearance with Nikki-Dee Ray. Afterwords, she came up to me and said she was the happiest person in the world because she got to meet someone who is on TV!

The very last prize we drew for was a 55 inch TV. The young gentleman who won it, brought us 3 non-perishable food items to earn a ticket. He was saving his money to buy a TV!

We accomplished our goal of raising 3,500 pounds of food, but not without the help of supporters and volunteers. On Friday Mrs. Baird’s Bread announced their donation of 18,000 pounds of bread!  There was great camaraderie between food bank employees and volunteers.  I was hoping for a respectful showing and got so much more!

Lubbock, Texas and the South Plains is the best place on earth to live and hands down Texas Tech is the best University anywhere! Thank you everyone who came out, volunteered, and made appearances.  We will see you next year for the same event. If you want to help us out just phone the South Plains Food Bank, and I will get you signed up!  A huge difference was made in lives in Lubbock this weekend! You WRECKED HUNGER!  This will only get bigger and better from here on out!

Sacrificing for Hunger's Sake

 

espresso     

     My recent Facebook post reads “Facebook Friends... Tell me what your daily indulgence is. Something that you spend money on and you know you can live without... But it is just so good...”  

     Answers ranged from coconut water to wine and chocolate.  My own daily indulgence is a Flat White from Gatsby's Coffee House in Lubbock, Texas.

     Every morning on my way to work I stop at my favorite spot “Gatsby’s” and have a Flat White.  Flat White is barista talk for “latte with a shot of espresso served in a small cup”.  I love the espresso.  I love the perfectly frothed milk. I love the atmosphere at Cactus Alley.  And I love that the barista pours a heart into the surface of my Flat White. >gush<

     But this isn’t a story about my coffee shop crush.

     This is a story about the cost of my fancy coffee and what could otherwise have been purchased.

     My Flat White costs $3.50.  I round up to $5 to include a tip for the lovely art work.  My five dollars a day, five times a week adds up to about $100 per month. 

     Here at the South Plains Food Bank we equate $1 to 4 meals.  Therefore my monthly coffee indulgence could have purchased 400 meals this month!  That is four hungry west Texans fed 3 meals per day for one month.

     New to the Food Bank, I am learning every day about who is “hungry.”  According to Feeding America, 1 in 6 Americans face hunger.  http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/map-the-meal-gap.aspx  The South Plains Food Bank is committed to alleviating hungry here in west Texas.  And I can help.

     Can I really give up my Flat Whites?  Yes.  But stop drinking coffee?  No.  What I am willing to do is let go of the fancy espresso and instead opt for the basic pour at my office which doesn’t cost me anything. 

     
Instead I will take my $100 and find a more generous use.  I invite you to do the same.

From Pantries to Mailboxes: A Special Delivery to Stamp Out Hunger

 

Stamp Out HungerA little after 1:00 in the afternoon, Monday-Saturday, my wife asks the dogs if they want to go check the mail… which means walking from the front door to the mail box by the street. For the dogs it’s a quick patrol of the front yard. Once the mail is collected and the dogs determine our front yard is safe, they go back inside.

“Checking the mail” is a daily ritual for most of us anywhere in the country. Even in an electronic world we make a trek to the mail box to see if there is anything special in the mail box. Usually it is bills and flyers… but sometimes it’s something special like an invitation to a wedding or thank you note or a note from a family member or friend. When I was growing up, on occasion, I would even find a “special delivery” letter!

Another ritual most of us have is checking our pantry or looking in the refrigerator to see what’s for breakfast… or lunch… or dinner. Unless we haven’t had time to make it to a grocery store, most of us find what we are looking for. But for one in six people on the South Plains going to the pantry isn’t a sure thing. There are times during the month when they are not sure where or how they will get their next meal. They are people who are food insecure.

The “food insecure” are the people we serve at the South Plains Food Bank every day; PeopleSenior Citizen at Community Center whose pantries are empty. Sometimes these people are seniors living on a fixed income. As food and fuel prices rise, they have less money for food. Sometimes they are people who are working, but just don’t make enough to buy all the groceries they need for themselves and their families. Other times they are veterans with disabilities that prevent them from finding a regular job. Or they may be children going to school without breakfast. There are many faces to hunger. And what I have discovered by being at the food bank, these are people I went to school with, people I go to church with, people who are my neighbors.

So what do mailboxes and food pantries have to do with one another? On Saturday, May 11, you have a chance to go to your pantry and then your mailbox to help feed hungry neighbors. It’s the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Simply leave your donation of canned or dried foods by the mailbox and your letter carrier will pick it up for special delivery to the food bank. Stamp Out Hunger is the largest one day food drive in the nation.

The food you donate on Saturday will be the food we give to families during the summer months. Summer is a time of the year when the need remains high, but donations are at a low. Your food donation will help ensure we have the food we need to keep kids, seniors, and others fed. And if you can’t leave food by your mail box please consider making an online gift. Every dollar we receive turns into the equivalent of five meals.

When you think about foods to donate, think about what you enjoy and what you would want to serve your friends and family. Please consider items like canned tuna or chicken packed in water. They can be used to create lots of nutritious dishes. Canned vegetables with reduced sodium or fruits packed in light syrup. Peanut butter is always appreciated as a good source of protien and fiber. Low sugar cereals and whole grain products help round out a healthy meal.

However you choose to donate, it will be a special delivery for the families we serve!

Stamp Out Hunger with South Plains Food Bank

 

What does it mean to feed a hungry person at SPFB?

 

 

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"What does it mean to feed a hungry person?"

The question was asked by a friend of mine who was visiting the South Plains Food Bank. While it seems like an easy question, I think what he was really asking was what difference does it make? It's a good question and made me think.

Sure, feeding a hungry person meets their immediate nutritional needs and their stomach stops hurting. We feed the hungry out of compassion. But in reality, feeding the hungry means different things to different people.

For a hungry school child, it's the difference between passing a test or not passing a test.

For a  hungry senior citizen, it's the difference between being able to afford medication or not taking medication.

For a working parent struggling to put food on the table, it the difference between being able to sit down around their dinner table and be a family or not.

Feeding the hungry is more than just a hunger issue. Feeding the hungry is about education, health and creating family. People who are hungry drag us all down. But when we take care of children, seniors and the working poor, we are not only being compassionate, we are building up our community and our country. That's what feeding the hungry means to me.

This year, the South Plains Food Bank will help feed 1 in 6 people in our area. It will have a different impact on every man, woman, and child we help feed, but it will make a difference to them...  and it will make our community stronger. 

Would you like to find out more about the SPFB and how you can help? Stop by for a visit. -Free Box Lunch and Tour. I would love to show you around.

David Weaver, CEO

 

 

 

 

 

Working the Dock

 

Mary Solis, our Operations manager, came into my office the last week in September and said, “I need you to work the dock.”
“Working the dock” means going outside and loading boxes of food into the cars of clients when we are busy. Working the dock keeps me in touch with muscles I’d forgotten. More importantly, it keeps me in touch with the people we see every day.
Working the dock is a humbling experience.
Every car that rolls up is a story. Hunger is part of their story. And when I work the dock, I become a small part of their story too.
On this particular Tuesday, I met Mr. Lemon, a dignified elderly gentleman who walks with a cane. He stands tall. I can tell he doesn’t want to be coming to the food bank. He apologizes for having to get food, but on a fixed income and with rising fuel prices, he doesn’t know what else to do. When his car is loaded he shakes my hand and says thank you.
Watching him drive away, I wondered what kind of difference our food box will make for Mr. Lemon and his wife that night. He had such a quiet dignity. I hope he feels no shame in asking for help.
Cameron with cat eye sunglasses arrives in an old beat up Saturn station wagon packed with clothing and boxes. It is obvious she is living out of her car. She rolls down the window and asks me to put her food box a vacant space she has carved out in the passenger seat behind her. A box of dry goods, a box of frozen goods, a box of produce, and a bag of apples from our apple orchard. It just fits in the space. I close the door. She looks at me, nods and smiles. She’s gone.
dock2 mediumWas she going to a friend’s house or a relative’s home? Or will she find herself alone in her car? I can’t help but worry.
Stacy the single mom with two wiggling children in car seats in the back is next. Steam is coming from under the hood of her car. I’m worried her motor is on fire. She laughs and says no, just a radiator hose leak. Her father has promised to fix it that evening. The trunk pops open and she helps us put food in the back. She pulls a couple of bananas out of the produce box and gives one each to her kids. “They didn’t get much for breakfast this morning. Now it looks like we’ll have a feast. God bless you.” The steam from under the hood has stopped. She starts the motor and takes off.
So the line continues. Car after car. Story after story the faces of hunger come into focus leaving an imprint, a memory, an impression. So many different faces. The realization that hunger doesn’t’ discriminate.
It’s all part of working the dock at the South Plains Food Bank.
Someone is always “working the dock” at the South Plains Food Bank. The dock, wherever it is, is where we connect with those we feed.
This year, we connected with one in six people on the South Plains providing hope and nourishment --one in six people who are your neighbors and your friends. That’s what we do, we feed the hungry, we give hope and we enrich lives.

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