This article originally appeared in the North Texas e-News.
Having recently celebrated its 40-year anniversary, the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) certainly has a wealth of experience in helping the local community fight hunger. The NTFB operates in 13 North Texas counties with over 200 local partner agencies helping provide food to those in need. Even with its extensive network and years of experience, the NTFB hasn’t experienced food price inflation quite like what we’re experiencing now.
According to a recently released Consumer Price Index report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food index jumped 11.4% over the past year, the highest year-over-year increase since May 1979. It’s inflation like that which the New York Times attributes to the current rise in food insecurity, a rise that was found to be on par with pandemic-era inflation in research conducted by the Urban Institute.
“Last year, we provided (about) 137 million meals, so that number is going up even though we’re concentrating on bringing it down,” Erin Fincher, NTFB Senior Director of Foundation Relations and Strategic Initiatives, said noting that the nonprofit had already far exceeded their 10-year goal for meals provided by five years earlier than anticipated.
Recent monthly figures from the NTFB bear out the continued increase in meal distribution with the food bank helping to provide access to 12.2 million meals in August, a 19% increase over the preceding August. In light of rising inflation and such steep increases in need, it’s perhaps no surprise that the NTFB is ramping up its fundraising efforts.
The NTFB is currently in the midst of its Nourish North Texas campaign, an effort launched last year which looks to raise $500 million in funding and food donations by the end of the 2023 fiscal year. More imminently, Fincher says the NTFB is looking to raise $1.3 million on September 22 as part of North Texas Giving Day, the annual regionwide fundraising initiative that she says has helped the nonprofit raise over a million dollars in donations during each of its iterations since the pandemic.
The NTFB spreads its donated funds and food across the organization’s 13 county service area in a collaborative process with their local partner organizations.
“We actually work with partners in all of those areas to identify needs,” Fincher said, explaining that the food bank uses a so-called hunger index which takes data on poverty levels and census information, along with the location of relief services, in order to determine the specifics of needed aid efforts.
Fincher said that areas like South Dallas and Ellis County are current focal points for the food bank as well as the east side of Denton County which the NTFB shares relief efforts in alongside the Tarrant Area Food Bank.
The NTFB notes that just a one-dollar donation equals three meals for area residents in need like those in the aforementioned counties, a calculation which Fincher said takes into account both local food bank and canned food drive donations as well as USDA and large-scale donations to determine the specific cost equation.
“North Texas Giving Day is a great example of how the community comes together and helps in order to work together for us to meet that metric,” Fincher said.
At time of writing, the NTFB has already raised a bit over $188,000 towards its $1.3 million goal thanks to pre-giving day donations. For more information about the North Texas Food Bank’s giving day efforts, from fundraising to a focused food drive looking for specific non-perishable food item donations, visit the North Texas Giving Day’s website and head to the NTFB page.