In early February, twenty-two volunteers from the Austin Food Blogger Alliance spent an evening at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. We were there to help sort through donations from the Food Bank’s Souper Bowl of Caring donation drive.
With work clothes on and following an orientation from Bethany and Lea (part of the Food Bank’s dedicated team), AFBA members got down to business, preparing nearly 10,000 pounds of food for distribution to people in need in the Austin area. That’s equivalent to almost 8,000 meals for Austin’s hungry!
If you visited your local grocery store in January and early February, you probably saw some of these bags full of canned goods for donation to Food Bank. Maybe you even donated one. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the food you donate to the Food Bank, it’s simple.
Your donations are delivered to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas on one of these semi-trailers. All told, Souper Bowl of Caring donations filled five trailers – that’s over 835,000 pounds of food!
Volunteers and staff unpack the donated goods and sort them into different categories.
Sorted donations travel down the Food Bank’s conveyor belt to be packaged for short-term storage in the warehouse before they are distributed to those in need via service organizations, food pantries in the area and CAFB’s mobile food pantry.
At the end of the night, our volunteers got to add their name badges to CAFB’s super “ball” of caring.
But the Food Bank is still in need of assistance. Now is the time to lend a hand and help CAFB get Souper Bowl of Caring donations out the door and into the bellies of Austin’s hungry. You can help by volunteering – just visit CAFB’s volunteer page and register for a work day or evening.
- Michelle Fandrich, The Kid Can Cook
Flipping through December’s “Cool Issue” of Austin Monthly, I found something decidedly not cool. Tucked in the issue, along with listings for the city’s hippest shops and newest restaurants, was an article by Sarah Thurmond focusing on Austin’s low ranking among America’s “most generous cities.” How could that be? I thought. Not my city, this city that I love, where I have met some of the most generous people in the world? The rankings were done by Convio and based on the amount per capita each city donated online. And yet, despite Austin’s position as one of the most tech-savvy, nearly recession-proof cities, we ranked two points lower in 2010 than we did only two years ago.
I think Austin deserves a place in the top 10 most generous cities and I’m asking you to help me get us there. I invite you to join me in making this the year that Austin gives back in a big way – and not just through online donations! Through our philanthropy programs this year, we’ll be reaching out to help those less fortunate in our community. We’ll be helping spread the word about fundraising for important causes such as kids’ cancer research. We’ll highlight volunteer bakers and cooks in our community who give hope to some of Austin’s least-served communities.
This year, the Austin Food Blogger Alliance will be kicking off our philanthropy campaign with a return to one of our first community collaborators – the Capital Area Food Bank. In February, our members will spend an evening working with the staff of CAFB, sorting through donations and helping get food into the hands of Austin’s hungry. Giving back couldn’t be simpler – just RSVP to our Eventbrite invitation (hitting mailboxes after the first of the year) and show up ready to work. The Capital Area Food Bank does have a few guidelines for volunteers that we must adhere to: 1. All volunteers must wear closed-toe shoes (no sandals) and 2. This evening work shift is only open to volunteers aged 18 years and older. More comprehensive guidelines will be emailed to participants the week before the event.
Invitations for this event will be going out in early January so keep an eye on your inbox and RSVP early. See you in February!
Michelle Fandrich, Philanthropy Chair
The Kid Can Cook
A big “Thank You!” goes out to our members that participated in the SNAP Challenge, our first philanthropy event for the AFBA. In total, we had 20 bloggers participate. In addition to helping raise awareness to the hunger issues in our community and the SNAP program in particular, these bloggers also provided more than 60 recipes and tips that will benefit the “Choices” nutrition education program offered by the Capitol Area Food Bank. As an unexpected bonus, the event also raised over $350 dollars for the CAFB thanks to the creativity of a few of our members. This event just shows that collectively and as a community, we can work together for greater causes. I am proud to be a part of a community of food bloggers that believes in giving back. I look forward to seeing you at our next event in August (details to come soon).
Kristina Wolter, Girl Gone Grits
I spend a lot of time thinking (and writing) about how to get healthier, tastier foods into our kids. But I am ashamed to say that in the past I have spared little thought for those who may be concerned with an even more serious problem – just getting food for their kids. Period. Full stop. I was ignorant when I walked through the doors of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas that night in April. I had no concept of how many of my fellow Texans were affected by hunger and then to learn that such a large percentage of them were children – 1 in 4 kids in Texas is food insecure! I knew I had to do something. And I wasn’t alone – so many in our nascent alliance have participated in this, AFBA’s first philanthropic project. Each week we’ve posted recipes to maximize SNAP benefits, we’ve spread the word about the facts of hunger in Texas and how everyday Texans can make a difference, some of us even interviewed SNAP participants to put a real face on hunger in Texas. For me, it was a life-changing experience – one that has re-shaped my passion for food and incited in me a new passion, for bringing an end to hunger in our country. Since the challenge began, my family and I have re-focused our personal philanthropic goals and I hope that the posts on The Kid Can Cook have encouraged others to do the same. Who knew blogging about food could change your life?
- Michelle Fandrich of TheKidCanCook.blogspot.com