Looking back – briefly – and moving forward: What’s ahead in 2010
January 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
This time last year, I was in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. The night before the historic ceremony, I had the opportunity to participate in an interfaith celebration where Methodist Bishop Gregory V. Palmer shared his thoughts on the upcoming event. He said “Our eyes burn. Our American eyes, from the bright light of possibilities.”
Few Americans have been immune to the impact of the economic crisis that so aggressively hit our nation just prior to the inauguration, and continues with little relief on the horizon. Press reports and pundits have indicated that Texas (and specifically Central Texas) has been spared the brunt of the economic challenges. A deeper, more realistic look at 2009 in Central Texas indicates that more families, seniors and children found themselves clients of the Capital Area Food Bank.
Even before the severe economic decline, Texas had the country’s highest percentage of children at risk of hunger. As more and more Texans found themselves in need of food assistance, the SNAP (Food Stamp) enrollment system began to fail, and the Food Bank-led hunger-relief system became overwhelmed with new clients as the hunger line grew by 60 percent.
In response, CAFB deployed new assets and programs such as the Mobile Food Pantry and Central Texas Food Rescue, and opened direct distribution service centers in East Austin and Pflugerville. The Food Bank also invested in two new full-sized tractor trailers to increase delivery, opened a satellite warehouse facility and provided more than 23 million pounds of nutritious food to those desperately in need (up from an average 15.7 million pounds 2006-2008).
As we begin 2010, we find ourselves in the challenging position of rapidly growing our organization to meet the challenges of a struggling economy and its impact on our more than 300,000 clients, and strategically positioning ourselves to shrink the hunger line and ultimately provide a long-term solution for hunger in the communities we serve.
Over the next 12 months, the Food Bank will deploy our second Mobile Food Pantry, expand direct service to clients, and develop systems to assist our organization in tracking the impact of the critical supplies distributed. With our collaborative partners, we will expand Partner Agency capacity, and we will continue to meet the demand and shrink the hunger line.
I am confident we will have success as we continue to evolve. I am sold on the Capital Area Food Bank because I am sold on YOU. From the 27,000 members of our community who made financial contributions, to the 13,000 volunteers who gave more than 77,000 hours of service, and to those who gave their voice to the public policy issues impacting so many of our neighbors in need, YOU were there for the children, families and seniors in need of physical and emotional nourishment. YOU are the ones who believe hunger, in a community as resourced as ours, is economically, socially and morally unacceptable. YOU believe, YOU acted on your belief, and YOU placed food in front of those in need – food that would otherwise not have been there.
Thank you. We celebrate our outstanding work together.
Now, it’s back to work.