Surviving 2020: How High Plains Food Bank Keeps the TX Panhandle Fed
Thanks so much to Tina Brohlin at the High Plains Food Bank for sharing an update on how things have been in the Texas Panhandle during the challenges of 2020. It’s a relief to know that our generous communities continue to come together to take care of those in need, and it’s a great reminder before the holidays to think about our neighbors who might be struggling. Hear our full interview on the link below:
For more information about the state of food insecurity in the region, here are a few statistics and fast facts from Tina:
Texas Panhandle Hunger
• 1 in 6, or 16.6% of of the population, across the Texas Panhandle struggle with food insecurity. That’s about 79,410 neighbors in need.
• 1 in 4 children, or 25.2% of local kids, face food insecurity across the Texas Panhandle. That means about 32,050 local kids are at risk for going hungry.
• Hunger exists all over our 30,000 square mile service area, across every zipcode in every one of the 29 counties.
Key HPFB Stats:
• High Plains Food Bank’s mission is to alleviate hunger in the Texas Panhandle.
• We distribute food through a safety-net of more than 194 feeding partners
• With low overhead and high-efficiency, HPFB can provide five meals with every $1 donation, and $0.95 goes directly to food and feeding programs.
• Safe, secure donations can be made online here
• Fresh produce is free to all of our partner agencies and accounted for 30% of total 2019 food distribution
• HPFB provides SNAP, CHIP, and Medicaid application assistance and other social service referrals to help individuals establish food security, improved health and self sufficiency
• COVID-19 has presented a perfect storm/triple whammy of increased demand, declines in donations of food, and disruptions to the charitable food assistance system’s operating model
• Food bankers, partner agencies, and volunteers are on the front line ensuring our neighbors have the food they need during this difficult time.
• HPFB distributed 1.1 million pounds to more than 12,000 households, the highest monthly distribution in terms of food and families served.
• More than 60% of the food distributed this year went to rural counties, outside of Amarillo/Canyon
• Across the board, our agency feeding partners are seeing an increased demand, some by 20-fold; at the same time retail food donations, food drives and fundraising events have ceased and volunteer support has been limited.
• HPFB provides Direct Mobile Distribution, a mobile pantry, to 6 counties that have a higher rate of food insecurity than community feeding partner agencies can meet. Average distribution increased from 672 family food boxes to over 1000 during the pandemic.
o DMD food boxes contain 35-40 pounds of supplemental food.
How High Plains Food Bank WORKS:
• HPFB collects, inspects, warehouses, and distributes food through a network of more than 194 feeding partners across the top 29 counties of Texas
• Our feeding partners include food pantries and ministries of every kind that meet specific needs in their community: women & children’s shelters, recovery centers, soup kitchens, emergency food pantries and more.
• On average, our partner network fed a monthly average of 9,041 families in 2019, and we have seen an increase at the height of the pandemic of 25 percent in households served (up to 11,000 households served during the summer time)
• Fresh produce is FREE to all partner feeding agencies. Most other foods can be accessed for about $0.16 a pound, a “shared maintenance fee”, which helps cover some warehousing and distribution costs. Our feeding partners rely on the food they can access from HPFB to feed local people in need at a fraction of retail cost.
• Staff prepares and delivers fresh meals to kids (and seniors) each weekday, ensuring they receive good nutrition which helps them learn, grow and develop.
• Kids Cafe is a year-round program for everyone, because siblings, parents, etc. are welcome to attend.
• Currently, Kids Cafe is serving 1000-1200 daily meals to at-risk children at multiple sites
The Garden at High Plains Food Bank
• Mobile Harvest distributed over 123,000 pounds of fresh produce to nearly 9,000 community members in high-need areas last year
• Mobile Harvest provides 3 weekly distributions based on availability
• Serves as an outreach program for nutrition education, including nutrition basics, healthy eating, cooking, and raised-bed gardening to more than 2400 participants
• Operates a 1-acre urban garden and partners on satellite gardens at multiple sites
Senior Food Program
• The number of low income seniors has steadily grown since HPFB launched the CSFP senior food box program in October of 2017.
• In 2019, HPFB distributed 14,591 boxes of food to local seniors, an increase of 54.8% compared to 2018. This number will be higher for 2020.
• Qualifying clients receive a 35-pound box of food each month to help supplement their budget meet nutritional needs.
• Currently we are distributing more than 2,000 monthly senior food boxes, and we’ve applied to carry a higher caseload