Have you ever wondered about best by dates or any other dates on the food you receive? Our Nurition Educator, Sarah, has some information that might be useful to keep you and your family safe and healthy when it comes to the food you eat.
Food, water, and shelter. Those are the three essentials most everyone names when asking what is most important.
I became a food banker in 2018. Through these two years, I have seen first-hand how essential nutritious food is to living and a life.
When Mayor Dan Pope issued a stay at home order, most folks had to move to working from home or even losing their job. My immediate thoughts were I need to stay home and protect my family. Be with my husband and three-year-old and hug them tight, but then my mind shifted because I remembered why I do what I do.
In my role here at the food bank, I work the communications side. My main goal was to let the public know that we are prepared to help those who need us most. Now my job became a bit complicated because I had to make sure that I was relaying all messages correctly because anyone who has worked communications in any form know that the way your message comes across is how the public will respond.
When I showed up to work the week after all non-essential business were closed, our staff came together and put our plan in place. My mind didn’t shut off for the initial two weeks. I didn’t sleep well, because I wanted to make sure that I was doing my part to the best of my ability to make sure all who needed us knew how to get in contact. That they received all the correct information. But I did what food bankers do best and figured it all out.
Each day we are focused on the many seniors, families, individuals, and children who are counting on us to help them get safe, nutritious food into their homes and onto their tables. Each day I wake up and remember why I do what I do. We all do. We are learning, assessing, adapting, and pushing forward each day to fulfill our mission to serve Lubbock and our surrounding communities. We’ve always known our food bank is important to our community, but this pandemic has taught us that we truly are essential.
The South Plains Food Bank work goes beyond delivering food to multiple agencies. The Nutrition Education team works hard to educate individuals about how to eat healthy on a budget. In our “10 Tips” series class, we discuss tips and tricks to preparing a healthful meal without breaking the bank.
- Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Make a menu filled with meals like stews, casseroles or stir-fries.
- Check to see what food you already have and make a list of what you need to buy.
- Get the best price.
- Check the local newspaper, online, apps for sales and coupons.
- Ask about rewards programs for extra savings at stores you shop frequently.
- Look for sales on meat which are often the priciest items on the shopping list.
- Compare, compare, compare!
- Locate the “Unit Price” on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand.
- The image below shows two different price tags. In the first one, the retail price is $1.62 for one 32 oz. yogurt. The unit price, in the red box, is $0.05 per oz. In the second one, the retail price is $0.72 for one 6 oz. yogurt, but the unit price is $0.12 per oz. Based on the unit price, you can determine that the larger, 32 oz. yogurt is the better buy because you are getting more for your money. Click here to better understand the price tag
- Buy in bulk.
- Examples: Family packs of chicken, steak or fish, larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables.
- Buy in season.
- Buying fruits and veggies in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness.
- The USDA has a wonderful resource called the Seasonal Produce Guide.
- Make items from scratch.
- Foods like pre-cut veggies, instant rice, oatmeal or grits will cost more than if you were to make them from scratch.
- Cook once and eat all week.
- Prepare a big batch of your family’s favorite recipe on a day off. Freeze the leftovers in separate containers. Use them throughout the week when you think about ordering take-out.
- Get creative!
- Use your leftovers in a different way. A delicious example is throwing leftover chicken in a stir fry or over a leafy salad.
10 Tips Eating Better on a Budget
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