Central Texas Food Bank receives funding

Ross resident Lois Anderson helps distribute food at the Shepherd’s Heart Pantry in Waco on Sept. 26, 2013. Shepherd’s Heart will be one of several organizations in McLennan County to receive support from a new grant given to Central Texas Food Bank. Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

The Central Texas Food Bank received a $15,907 investment from the Caterpillar Foundation, a philanthropic organization. These funds will be used to provide food to individuals facing hunger in McLennan County.

“Hunger is an issue in every community,” said Hank Perret, president and CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank. “We are thankful to the Caterpillar Foundation for its commitment to fighting hunger and supporting children and families in need in McLennan County.”

The Central Texas Food Bank provides food and groceries to almost 46,000 people each week with the help of nearly 300 partner agencies, according to an information sheet from the food bank.

This grant will provide more than 63,000 meals, Perret said. The Central Texas Food Bank serves 21 counties in Central Texas and is based in Austin.

“Central Texans face impossible choices and make painful sacrifices that prevent them from accessing healthy, nutritious food,” said a fact sheet from the Central Food Bank of Texas. “As a result, many turn to the food bank for help in emergencies or as part of their regular meal planning.”

Mark Jackson, chief development officer of the Central Texas Food Bank, has been working toward nourishing hungry people for more than six years. Jackson said the Central Texas Food Bank submitted a proposal to the Caterpillar Foundation about how the funds would be used. The Caterpillar Foundation, as a part of Feeding America, provides grants to food banks across the country, and the Central Texas Food Bank was one of the organizations to receive funding.

“This is a really important relationship for us because we are located physically in Austin, but we are the food bank for McLennan country and the other 20 counties in Central Texas,” Jackson said. “We certainly struggle with awareness in McLennan County.”

The Caterpillar Foundation is the philanthropic foundation of construction company, Caterpillar Inc., and was created to make a positive impact in local communities. The grant will only be used in McLennan County. Jackson said gifts like these have a huge impact on the food bank, and he and his organization are grateful for the Caterpillar Foundation.

“The Caterpillar Foundation is committed to alleviating poverty in the communities in which we live and work,” said Michele Sullivan, president of the Caterpillar Foundation. “We are proud to partner with the Central Texas Food Bank to support our neighbors in McLennan County who may not know where their next meal will come from.”

The grant that the Central Texas Food Bank received is specific to the mobile pantry program, where the food bank directly distributes to the clients themselves. This fills in the gaps that the partner agencies are unable to cover. The food distribution is set up in a parking lot and is an essential program for the food bank because it is a way for them to make sure that they can do more and make sure to get food on the table if there are areas that aren’t receiving food.

Moving forward, the Central Texas Food Bank is looking to have more awareness events, but the geographic divide between Austin and McLennan County makes this difficult. However, according to Jackson, the food bank wants the McLennan community to know that it is committed to working to ensure everyone in Central Texas has enough food on the table.

“One of our organizational goals is to increase awareness and increase support from McLennan County, so a gift of this size for that area means so much to us and allows us to draw attention to the great work we’re doing there,” Jackson said.