It may be hard to imagine not having enough to eat, but for many living across the Llano Estacado region, hunger is a reality. Fortunately, there are nonprofit organizations called “food banks” that distribute tons of food products that create hundreds of thousands of meals annually. But regional food banks do more than provide food to the needy–they also play a vital role in rebuilding our local food systems in at least four ways.
The mission of regional food banks is to alleviate hunger in their service area. Food Banks accomplish this through the partnerships with other service agencies and businesses, food drives and collections, generous donations, and by creating gardens (more on this below.). This web of food banks and pantries is a first line of defense in battling food insecurity and hunger among our populations. By connecting with local agencies, volunteers, and food pantries, each of these larger food banks is able to provide meals that feed hungry families throughout the Llano Estacado and beyond.
In carrying out their mission, food banks actually help to reduce waste. Food collected through drives and donations goes to families who will consume it. This keeps food items from languishing on a super market shelf or being discarded when still edible. By eliminating this waste, Food Banks don’t just impact those who are hungry, but also our entire society.
Educate the public about good nutrition
Many food banks don’t just offer food, they also educate the families about how to use food stamps, how to make wise meal choices, and what is necessary to keep their family as healthy as possible. By helping families learn to make healthier food choices and decisions, food banks open up a brighter future.
Growing and procuring local food
Regional food banks don’t just take in donations of food—they also produce food through their gardens. They are all pivoting away from solely distributing bulk commodities and processed food items, to providing more fresh vegetables and fruits. Like Llano Estacado growers, our regional food banks are growing some food to supply their most vulnerable clients. Examples of food banks using gardens include: Kids’ Cafe (supplied by The Garden at High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo, TX) and The GRUB Farm (of South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock, TX). And though it is not a garden, the Hunters for the Hungry program of the West Texas Food Bank (in Odessa, TX) is a great example of a food bank using the local food system to provide for those who are hungry.
If you are interested in learning more about each of these food banks, we have linked to their websites below. On each website, you will also find a page to donate to the organization if you are interested.