Here I am… Helping. Learning. Growing.

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

On the MLK Day of Service, a chance to start the year off right by making an impact in your community and celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we thought it would be fitting to share a blog post written by one of our volunteers.

by Jenn Cowan

As a new self-proclaimed Austinite, waiting for the semester at Texas State University to begin, I decided it was time to get involved in something meaningful.

So, what to do in one of the fastest growing cities in America?

Volunteer.

I was lucky enough to find an opportunity on volunteermatch.com one night while checking my email.  With so many different organizations from which to choose, I singled out the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.  Once I learned how much of an impact the Food Bank has on our local and surrounding area, it was a no-brainer.  Volunteer my time; learn the ins-and-outs of online marketing for a successful non-profit; network with amazing people; and give back to the community from which I am now proud to be part of.

How could I not?

Each day, as I make my way to the front door, I am reminded of the compassion that still exists, as it brightens my day to see volunteers loading a truck or separating food. As I continue into the building, I am greeted with smiling faces (if the energy from each individual could be tapped somehow, I think the folks at CAFB could make tons of money as a supplier). I make my way up the stairs and into my cubical to begin my day.

Before I explain what I do as a marketing intern, let me start with a brief explanation of CAFB’s impact on our community. The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas provides food and grocery products to more than 350 Partner Agencies in 21 Central Texas counties.  Last year, CAFB provided more than 25 million pounds of food and its service area covers 19,064 square miles in Central Texas.

It was unbeknownst to me that our Food bank services so many surrounding counties in our area. That’s pretty substantial, right? Over 25 million pounds of food within a year, really? That’s fantastic!

Now, back to my day.  As an online marketing intern, it’s my duty to help develop an online presence for the Food Bank Check out some of the new and cutting edge things we’re doing.

Here I am… Helping. Learning. Growing.

Now, what will you do?

Cooking for Your Life

January 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

by Claudia Shenoda, CAFB Nutrition Educator, BSFCS

I was honored to work with a group of older adults who participated in my Cooking for Your Life Class, a four-week series that teaches low-income adults about food and kitchen safety, basic nutrition principles, and allows participants to prepare a variety of healthy, budget-friendly recipes.  I taught the classes at Conley-Guerrero Senior Center, a community gathering place for senior citizens in east Austin.  Thirty-six seniors attended the classes over four weeks and many of them came to all four classes.

At first I wasn’t sure if this group, with so many diverse life experiences, would find my class useful, but their enthusiasm and faithful attendance each week showed me that they wanted to be there.  Janey Martinez, a diligent participant, told me every class that she learned so much (I was able to witness this personally as she told me of her smarter choices at the grocery store using the nutrition label to make healthier decisions), and others often thanked me warmly for the day’s lesson which provided new information and reinforcing messages about nutrition and food safety.  I even won over a veteran/professional cake baker who was skeptical when we made banana nut muffins with little oil, no sugar and whole wheat flour.  However, she positively expressed her regard of the recipes we prepared by preparing all of them in her own home over the course of four weeks.

The food safety component of this class, which focuses on four principles—clean, separate, chill and cook—proved especially relevant to this group because older adults are one of the three groups most susceptible to food borne illness.  The lessons on healthier choices, appropriate serving sizes, and the various health benefits among the grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy groups provided essential information to these seniors who are also among the highest nutritionally at-risk groups in the country.  Class participants also learned new ways to prepare foods using healthy and affordable ingredients using these recipes: Banana Nut Muffins; Chicken Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Raisins; Tempting Tostadas; and Easy Lasagna.

Teaching the class proved a rewarding experience for all of us.  They said they gained invaluable knowledge that will help them live a longer and healthier life, and I gained a sense of honor in working with them to change the way they think, prepare, and consume food.

I’ve included the infamous class recipe for Banana Nut Muffins below.  This is a healthy and tasty recipe that is sure to be a hit with people of all ages!

Banana Nut Muffins Serving size: 1 muffin

Prep time: 20 minutes                                                                                             Serves: 14

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mashed bananas

Directions:

1.       Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2.       In a large bowl, beat oil, apple sauce and honey together. Add eggs, and mix well. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then add to batter. Blend in chopped nuts.

3.       Spray lined muffin tins with cooking spray.

4.       Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 of the way full.

5.       Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes before enjoying.

Nutrition Information per Serving:

Calories 160, Total Fat 6g, Carbohydrates 26g, Fiber 3g, Protein 4g, Sodium 180mg, Cholesterol 30mg

Source: Allrecipes.com

Recipe modified by CHOICES Nutrition Education Program

8 Ways to Tackle Hunger with Souper Bowl of Caring

January 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s that time of the year again – time to join the biggest youth-led food and fund drive in Central Texas.  Each year we like to mix it up and encourage more people to participate.  Last year, Tyson Foods challenged you to comment on their blog , which triggered a 100-pound food donation.

This year, along with Austin’s competing television networks, radio stations, print publications, grocery stores and other community  partners, we’re teaming up with the Boy Scouts of Central Texas to reach our goal of one million meals.  We can achieve our goal with fun activities for you online and in your Central Texas community. Here’s how you can get involved:

1. Join a team. Search online to find your team or start a new team and get registered.

2. Register your team for MLK Day. When you register online, you’ll receive your monthly e-newsletter and a free Resource Kit to help promote your event.

3. Enter the CAFB Souper Bowl of Caring Blog Contest.

Show off your creative talent by sending us a blog post with a photo gallery or video about your work with Souper Bowl of Caring.  Winning entries will be featured on our blog at blog.austinfoodbank.org and on our Facebook page.

You’ll also get a limited edition Hunger is UNacceptable t-shirt and water bottle, as well as a special guided tour of the Food Bank for you and your friends.  This is a great opportunity for youth to build their resume, for college applications, and to demonstrate leadership in your community. Click here to enter.

Contest Rules

  • It must be about Souper Bowl of Caring.
  • It must mention our goal of raising 1 million meals.
  • It must include the words “Hunger is unacceptable.”
  • Videos must be no longer than 3 minutes.

4. Donate online. Take a virtual shopping trip by putting food items into your online shopping cart. Then click “Donate” to donate the cost of those items to the Food Bank. It’s a fun way to help end hunger!

5. Support the “Scouting for Food” Food Drive

The Capitol Area Council Boy Scouts will be conducting a Food and Fund Drive in many areas throughout Central Texas. Scouts will leave door hangers on your door the week of January 22 – 29 and return to pick up non-perishable food items the following Saturday.  Your donation will support a Capital Area Food Bank Partner Agency in your community.

On February 5, you’re invited to join us for the 101st anniversary celebration of the Scouting movement at the 62nd annual Boy Scout Parade and Report to the State of Texas in conjunction with the Souper Bowl of Caring. Watch the Boy Scouts State Parade on Congress Avenue where the scouts will collect healthy, non-perishable food donations for our Central Texas neighbors in need.

7. Donate at your local Randalls, H-E-B and Central Market’s

While you’re shopping for snacks for game day, consider sharing a meal with those in need. Purchase pre-packaged bags of most-needed items or look for tear-off coupons in the amounts of $1, $3 and $5 at checkout stands in area Randalls, H-E-B and Central Market grocery stores.  Your purchase of a pre-packaged bag at either retailer provides two meals for a family of four.

8. Participate in Souper Bowl of Caring and save on Harlem Globetrotters tickets

The Harlem Globetrotters “4 Times the Fun” World Tour is coming to Austin on Friday, January 28.  When you support Souper Bowl of Caring you’ll save $7 on tickets. Learn more.

Thank you, Partners:

HEB, Central Market, Randalls, FOX 7, News 8, KEYE TV, KVUE-TV, TeleFutura, Telemundo, Univision, The CW, My Austin TV, KVET, KASE 101, AM 1300 The Zone, Buena 104.3, La Jefa 107.7, Relevant Radio 970 AM, The Statesman, The Jewish Outlook, Ahora sí, Capitol Area Council Boy Scouts of America, and Harlem Globetrotters.

Let Your Online Activities Benefit the Food Bank

January 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

These days, it’s easy to stay in touch with friends, share your knowledge and even manage your weight loss online.  Did you know that you can do these things while providing much-needed food for hungry Central Texans?  Simply select the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Inc. as your charity of choice.  Your gift will go a long way – every $1 provides $5 worth of nutritious food.

Here’s a round-up of websites to help you use social media and online services for ending hunger at home.

ChipIn

Easily raise funds for the Food Bank with this simple application widget and see instant progress on your efforts.  The widget works with any Web page and many popular social media sites. The PayPal account email address for the Capital Area Food Bank is contribute@austinfoodbank.org.

Crowdrise

Make raising money for the Food Bank not just easy, but also fun.  While you raise funds for the Food Bank, you’ll also have opportunities to compete for prizes like Apple iPads, get a free t-shirt, earn points for every dollar you raise, and points for votes from Crowdrise members.  Crowdrise’s community-based participation-driven giving philosophy is summed up in their motto:  “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.”

GoodSearch

GoodSearch is a free browser toolbar that you install. When you use it as your search engine, or if you purchase online from a large directory of vendors, a portion of the proceeds go to the Food Bank.  You can also enter the “Who do you GoodSearch For” video contest.  Make a heartfelt, creative video about why you chose CAFB as your charity. If your video is featured,  GoodSearch will donate $100 to the Food Bank.

 

HelpAttack!

Do you love to Tweet? Designate the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas as your charity on HelpAttack!

Pound for Pound Challenge

Take the Pound for Pound Challenge.  For every pound you pledge to lose through May 31, 2011, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 11¢ to Feeding America® — enough to secure one pound of groceries on behalf of local food banks. Now, for the first time, you can create your own Pound For Pound Challenge® team! Sign up with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and anyone who you’d like to invite. Lose weight, feed your community and have fun with the support of others who share the same goals.

SixDegrees.org

Based on the popular game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, sixdegrees.org helps you create fundraising badges to support the Capital Area Food Bank. These badges can be placed on your social networking profiles, blogs and websites.

Do you have an upcoming celebration, graduation or birthday? Ask for a Good Card®.  The Good Card® is a gift card with stored value that you can redeem as a donation to the Food Bank. It’s a great way to let your family and friends know you are passionate about ending hunger.

WhatGives

Did you know that the Capital Area Food Bank accepts PayPal donations? WhatGives offers a great widget you can use on Facebook or on your personal web page to collect donations for the Food Bank.

For more information on how to raise food and funds for the Food Bank click here.

Best of the Blog: 2010

December 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Thank you, Central Texas, for your comments and for sharing your hunger stories with us.  Here are our choices for the best blog posts of this past year.

Most popular blog post:
Top 10 Myths about SNAP (Food Stamps)

Most delicious social media effort:
Austin Food Bloggers Project

Most popular guest blogger:
Real Stories: How Low is Low?

Most exciting legislative victory:
Passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

Most disappointing legislative failure:
Use of future SNAP benefits to pay for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

Do you have a favorite CAFB blog post? Is there something you want to see more of in 2011? Let us know in the comments section below.  Have a safe and happy new year. See you in 2011!

Infographic: Metro Families Find Themselves “Stuck in the Middle”

December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

For the federal government, calculating poverty is as simple as using the cost of food at a guideline and applying that measure equally across the country.  In metro areas like Austin, families working in low-wage jobs don’t make enough to live given the local cost of living. Many more expenses – from housing to transportation to health care – factor into the costs of daily life.  Often these families may not be considered poor enough to qualify for safety net programs like SNAP or WIC, but still struggle to make ends meet. When it’s time to make tough choices, the food budget often suffers.

Counties with metro areas are also at a greater disadvantage in receiving federal funds for social assistance programs such as community development block grants. A 2006 study by the United States Department of Agriculture found that when they adjusted for the cost of living for metro areas, the rate of poverty is higher in metro areas, and the prevalence of poverty in non-metro areas is 12 percent lower than in metro areas.  However, adjusting poverty according to the cost of living could have negative effects in funding for non-metro social safety nets, where there is historically a larger concentration of older adults – many of whom live on fixed incomes.

Our new infographic on HungerisUNacceptable.com shows the cost of living for families of different sizes in the Austin-Round Rock area based on the CPPP Family Budget Estimator project.

Choose a family size and learn how the cost of living compares to the federal poverty level.  You can then help families “stuck in the middle” between poverty and a living income by going shopping in our “virtual grocery store.”

Drag the food items to the shopping cart and click the donate button to donate the cost of groceries to help Central Texas families at risk of hunger.  It’s a fun, interactive way to help families “stuck in the middle,” and to learn about the tough choices our Austin-Round Rock neighbors make every day.

Let us know what you think.

In 3 days, you can provide $5 million in food for free!

December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

We only have three days left in the Walmart Facebook challenge.   When you “like” Austin Round-Rock (and tell your friends to do it, too), you’ll help bring us closer to winning the $1 million grant to CAFB. And, since we can turn every dollar into $5 worth of nutritious food, you’re really bringing $5 million dollars to help us nourish the hungry in our community.

That’s $5 Million Dollars!

Central Texas children are home for the holidays, and so is hunger, as children are not accessing the free- and reduced-priced lunches from school.  Help us make every holiday for families a little less stressful by ensuring our neighbors have access to nutritious food.

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