13th Annual Golden Fork Awards

We often say that the North Texas Food Bank could not carry out its mission of bridging the hunger gap in our region without the partners and relationships we have in the community.

While we feel this gratitude every single day, we like to pause each year to recognize our most passionate supporters through the Golden Fork Awards. For more than a decade, these awards have been an opportunity to express our appreciation for the volunteers, corporations, foundations, and community partners who have made such an impact on hunger-relief efforts in North Texas through their generosity of time, resources and compassion. This year’s honorees were especially critical in our COVID-19 response.

The following recipients were honored for their contributions at this year’s virtual ceremony on October 22.

Corporation of the Year: Texas Instruments and the TI Foundation

When the founders of Texas Instruments established the company, they built its operations on a belief in doing the right thing and a strong commitment to being a good neighborin North Texas and its other site communities. They established the TI Foundation in 1964. The company and foundation have supported the North Texas Food Bank for many years through grants and volunteering.  In 2018, the TI Foundation awarded NTFB a $1.5 million grant. This was followed by a $100,000 grant for disaster relief efforts in October 2019 when tornadoes tore through Dallas. This year, the TI Foundation awarded NTFB $1.5 million for COVID-19 hunger relief efforts – the equivalent of 17 million pounds of food for more than 30,000 households.

Hunger Ambassador of the Year: WFAA

WFAA is driven by a strong purpose of serving the greater good of our communities. Guided by these values, WFAA has made significant contributions to the Food Bank. WFAA’s leadership participates on our advisory committee and during COVID, the network created PSAs in support of the food bank and encouraged their viewership to donate funds, resulting in more than 24,000 meals donated. The team at the station also created the innovative Amazon Wishlist Campaign which sent food right to our door. More than $100,000 worth of product was sent to our Plano warehouse as a result.

Retail Partner of the Year: Costco

Costco has been a valued partner since 2017, with its retail donations increasing every year. In FY20, it continued this upward trend and donated more than 1.82M pounds of food. Giving back to the communities where their employees live and work is one component of Costco’s stated sustainable responsibilities – and it shows. Costco is active and engaged and takes the initiative to help their stores as well as the NTFB Retail Team when issues arise. When we had a special request, like pallets of water at the height of when COVID began, we knew Costco would come through for us and they did.

Dennis Jenkins, ABC Home and Commercial Services

In-Kind Donor of the Year: ABC Home and Commercial Services

Family-owned and operated ABC Home & Commercial Services is the largest independent pest control company in the DFW Metroplex and has been contributing in-kind pest control to NTFB since 2016. The pest control at NTFB is no small task given the requirements we fall under. Despite this, ABC was ready and willing to donate everything necessary and with a great deal of professionalism. When COVID-19 hit our community, ABC stepped up to support NTFB’s response efforts. They quickly provided services for both of our temporary locations, as well as two of our partner agencies.

Tom Black Volunteer of the Year Award: Jill Mendenhall & Max Chesser

Jill Mendenhall & Max Chesser

The husband and wife team have been volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank for over 2 years, increasing their volunteer efforts to 5 days a week during the COVID 19 pandemic. Jill and Max have been consistent, daily warehouse kernels (what we call our volunteer shift leaders) since day one of the pandemic. They led their own production lines in the first few weeks of the pandemic as the food bank learned how to best adapt and move forward during the crisis. Both Max and Jill are continuing to volunteer in the warehouse each day to help the food bank feed as many hungry community members as possible. Their commitment to the food bank’s mission is a true inspiration.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom has been a leader in business and philanthropy in North Texas for over two decades. He has supported NTFB through leadership, advocacy, and through gifts of financial support, food and relationships for many years. This includes serving on the Board for 11 years from 2007 through 2018 and providing leadership as NTFB Board Chairman from 2013 through 2017.  He currently serves on the NTFB LIFE Council, a group of past board members who continue their work by Leading, Investing, Feeding, and Engaging the community.

2020 Jan Pruitt Legacy Award: Rev. Jay Cole

This award honors NTFB’s late CEO Jan Pruitt, who had a passion for helping her neighbors in need. The award was created in her memory four years ago.

Rev. Jay Cole

Rev. Jay Cole is the Executive Director at one of NTFB’s two hubs, and largest Partner Agencies, based on pounds distributed, Crossroads Community Services. In its first year of operation in 2001, under Rev. Cole’s leadership, CCS tripled the amount of food distributed from 33,000 to 100,000 pounds. In 2005, Crossroads hit a significant milestone – distributing 1 million pounds of food. Four years later, it would become the first NTFB partner agency to distribute 2M pounds of food in one year. In 2011, Crossroads became the first official NTFB Hub. The relationship with the North Texas Food Bank is just one of the collaborations and partnerships that Jay has formed across the Dallas community.

While the ceremony looked a little different this year, nothing changes the gratitude we have for our supporters and the joy we receive from recognizing their inspiring generosity and commitment to building a hunger-free North Texas.

Caryn Berardi is a Communications Specialist for the North Texas Food Bank.