Wednesday, November 10, 2021

NTFB Establishes Priorities Help Public

The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) in Plano, Texas is a nonprofit organization that aims to supply food to people suffering from severe hunger. In 2019, NTFB helped North Texas become one of the areas with the lowest food insecurity rates in the country.

Although NTFB provided 125.6 million meals to people of all ages, COVID challenged the organization’s ability to provide food. The pandemic challenged food banks around the country so much that Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization, estimates that much of the country's collective effort and initial success in feeding most population experiencing hunger was lost during COVID, delaying any progress of reducing hunger for years. To make up for lost gains, NTFB created priorities and asked for the public’s help to address food shortages in 2021.

The organization seeks to address food insecurity by first focusing on what it calls food deserts. A food desert is an area where there is a high population but low access to food services. The organization will work with the City of Dallas and the Office of Economic Development to find ways to increase access to these areas.

In line with other economic conditions, the pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in the North Texas area. Nearly half of the population considered food insecure sought assistance for the first time. To compound this problem, the food bank had trouble stocking items because the pandemic left grocery stores shelves bare, especially of much-needed shelf-stable canned foods. This shortage led to supply chain problems where NTFB’s partners could not contribute as much as they usually would.

One of NTFB’s biggest challenges is access to supply, especially in an environment where government support is not guaranteed to sustain the 130 million meals they serve a year. Worse yet, these problems led to longer wait times and higher prices.

NTFB has received assistance from the federal government and Feeding America. Through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), NTFB families received food. Meanwhile, NTFB received $600,000 of a $100 million donation from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos given to Feeding America. NTFB plans to lean on its partners to provide additional assistance.

NTFB’s priorities include advocating for a stimulus package with a 15 percent increase in supplies throughout the pandemic recovery. This advocacy includes support for a package that would provide $900 million for food through The Emergency Food Assistance Program for food banks across the country. In addition, a priority is $543 million to improve food bank infrastructure.

In addition, NTFB is aggressively seeking more donations. As a result, the organization will have to make up for 2020 and sustain levels for years to come. NTFB must also balance its number of volunteers against the number of people who go to the organization for help.

NTFB plans to use growth models (or plans that show how a business retains and attracts clients) to invest in its network of partners, partner with other community organizations, and increase its emergency food distribution. Finally, the organization will address the problems that cause food insecurity, and in doing so, shorten food lines.

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