The term, “end of an era,” is often overused. At the South Plains Food Bank, we are truly witnessing the end of an era. Recently, our CEO, David Weaver, announced his retirement. An impromptu, all-staff meeting was called where David announced, through tears, that he was retiring. David was not the only one with tears in his eyes; I and many of my fellow food bank staff members were brought to tears as well.
David is the only food bank leader I have known in my career at the organization, and only the second Executive Director, now CEO, of the South Plains Food Bank. David replaced Carolyn Lanier, the founding Director, in 1997. David’s undergraduate degree in Sociology and his master’s degrees in Divinity and Theater inspired Carolyn to ask him to help her with the accounting at the food bank, stating she wanted “someone creative to help her with the bookkeeping.” David began his 27-year career with the food bank in 1991, beginning with a part-time data entry job, converting the accounting system from manual to automated.
Under David’s leadership, the food bank has undergone many changes. From the humble beginnings at 4612 Locust, where office space was shared by many, to the beautiful facility at 5605 MLK Boulevard, made possible by the Talkington Foundation, David has overseen growth and change.
Some of that growth includes:
- Breedlove Foods, Inc. was incubated as a division of the food band and sent from the nest to become its own 501(c)3 entity.
- The GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business) Program was conceived in 1999 as a way prepare at-risk teens for the job market while giving them a place to belong on our 5-acre urban farm.
- Children’s Feeding Programs, including Kid’s Café, Summer Feeding Programs, Snack Pack, and Holiday Boxes reach food insecure children across the South Plains through our host sites.
- A Mobile Pantry Program that reaches 19 of the 20 counties we serve is an innovative method of combating hunger in rural areas and food deserts.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) (or Senior Box Program) provides a box of nutritious food each month to low-income seniors 60 years of age and older.
- The George Elle, Rotary District 5730, South Plains Food Bank Apple Orchard, funded in 1994. The 15-acre orchard boasts over 2500 apple trees that provide over 100,000 pounds of apples to food bank clients annually.
- A Nutrition Education Department provides cooking demonstrations, food budgeting, diabetic management classes, and tasting demonstrations to adult clients, teens in the GRUB Program, and children at Kid’s Café.
- Food box distribution through our food bank dock has grown to 9 million meals, with potential to grow to 11 million in the near future.
- The growth of our Development Department and change in our fundraising philosophy from special events and donor solicitation to a relationship-based donor engagement model.
- Relationships with our community partners, food donors, business alliances, and volunteer base have grown and developed.
In addition to the growth of food bank services and the food distributed, David has touched the hearts of the people and the families he’s been in contact with over the years. The grandmother in our lobby who thanked him for providing food so she could break bread with the grandchildren she was raising, the down-and-out gentleman who reminded David, “I used to be just like you,” the schizophrenic client who always needed a little extra help, the hundreds of employees he’s counseled over the years – we all thank him and will miss him.
After this glowing review, you may wonder if I have anything negative to say about David. David’s liability is he is nice, too nice. That fault is what made him a great leader of the food bank for 27 years, and what made the South Plains Food Bank the great place it is today.
Thank you, David!
Written by: Jenifer Smith, F.O.G. Director