Community Partner Stories Sgt. Alfred Allen National Guard READ STORY Sgt. Alfred Allen When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020, the North Texas Food Bank faced two immediate issues. Nearly all volunteers were staying home for their safety, and demand was increasing dramatically as individuals lost their jobs. From April 2020 through September 2021, the Texas National Guard allowed NTFB to continue to carry on its mission possible by packing, sorting, and distributing much-needed food. Sgt. Alfred Allen had not heard of the North Texas Food Bank before he was deployed to the organization in January 2021. “I’ve done hurricane details, I’ve done tornado missions in Missouri, two combat deployments, and honestly, working at the Food Bank and seeing those operations, seeing how those guys are helping out the families there was actually one of the best missions out of everything I’ve done in the 18 years I’ve been in,” Sgt. Allen said. As the non-commissioned officer in charge, Sgt. Allen’s job was to manage the Guardsmen on-site and coordinate with the Food Bank. Shortly after first arriving, his team was breaking records for the number of boxes loaded and he kept their enthusiasm high with friendly competitions over which groups would load the most boxes. He says that he is thankful for having been deployed to the Food Bank, since the scale of the food being moved through the warehouse and his experiences at mobile pantry sites helped him understand the amount of food insecurity in our community and the enormous effort required to meet it. “I wish they’d give me a call saying, ‘Hey, Sergeant, come back to the Food Bank’ because I’d be there tomorrow.” Anna & Raj Asava 飢餓米桃 READ STORY Anna & Raj Asava When long-time community advocates Raj and Aradhana “Anna” Asava learned that far too many of their North Texas neighbors are food insecure and do not know where they will find their next meal, the couple immediately knew they had to get more involved in the fight against hunger. The Asavas were connected to the North Texas Food Bank and were shocked to learn more about the complex hunger issue in the region, especially childhood hunger. Anna will never forget the impact of seeing one of the Food 4 Kids backpacks for the first time. “We looked inside to find small, kid-friendly packaged food items that would keep the child nourished until Monday when he came back to school! I can never forget that visual.” In the span of six years, the Asavas have made quite an impact of their own in the hunger fight. They went from occasional volunteers and donors to Anna joining the NTFB Philanthropy Council, supporting the Stop Hunger Build Hope Capital Campaign, to Anna joining the NTFB Board in 2021. During this time, they also founded the community affinity group, HungerMitao. Launched at NTFB in 2017, HungerMitao is a volunteer-driven grassroots movement raising awareness about hunger in the United States, improving community engagement, and channeling resources and contributions of the Indian American community to fight hunger through the Feeding America network of food banks. Since its launch, the movement has expanded beyond North Texas and has enabled more than 35 million meals for Feeding America and food banks across the country. Through HungerMitao and their personal involvement, Raj and Anna continue to help bring awareness to NTFB and the hunger crisis. “The evolution of the Food Bank into a super-efficient logistics organization that ensures food is in the right place at the right time through a strong food network, is still not well understood by many people,” Anna said. “I feel if we all supported our food banks, we can help the food insecure get sustained, dependable help when they need it.” John and Pam Beckert 生活委員會 READ STORY John and Pam Beckert John and Pam Beckert both became involved with the North Texas Food Bank through one of its early programs, Hunger Link. The goal of the initiative was to secure unused prepared food from large corporations, particularly restaurants and hotels, to reuse for hunger relief efforts. John, representing the hotel industry, joined the NTFB board, and Pam was a volunteer. And while the Hunger Link program only lasted a couple of years, the Beckert’s began a relationship with the Food Bank that continues to this day. “I saw the unmet need in the community and realized I could help make a difference with my experience and contacts in the hospitality business,” John said. John would eventually serve as chair of the NTFB board while Pam would go on to start the NTFB Letter Writing Campaign, a fundraising initiative that raised approximately $6.2 million over its 15-year-history for the NTFB Child Programs and provided access to more than 18.5 million meals. Because of their passion for providing hope and nourishment to those facing hunger, the Beckerts were asked by former NTFB president and CEO Jan Pruitt to chair the $55 million Stop Hunger Build Hope capital campaign that ran from 2015-2018. Under their leadership, funds were raised to open the Perot Family Campus in Plano, Texas, and set the Food Bank up to meet the hunger needs of North Texas far into the future. “Although, tragically, we lost our wonderful friend and intrepid leader, Jan Pruitt, we were privileged to work with a great committee and the extremely dedicated staff at the Food Bank,” Pam said. 湯姆布萊克 Board Member READ STORY 湯姆布萊克 Before becoming a board member and eventual board chair, Tom Black was familiar with the North Texas Food Bank from his role as the board chair for one of its Partner Agencies, Christian Community Action in Lewisville. “Our mission was to ‘Change Lives’ and food was the main component in making this happen. By offering food assistance, our clients could use the money they had for childcare, medicine or gas. Providing food was the key, and the source of that food was the North Texas Food Bank.” When his term on the Christian Community Action board ended, NTFB board member Ray Hemmig suggested Tom to the late President and CEO Jan Pruitt, 和 she recommended him for the board. Tom went on to serve 11 years on the board from 2007 through 2018, serving as board chair from 2013 through 2017. This included leading NTFB through the creation of its bold 10-year plan in 2015 to provide 92 million nutritious meals annually by 2025 and the launch of a $55 million Capital Campaign to build the facilities necessary to meet this goal, the largest ever for a Dallas nonprofit at the time. The Food Bank would go on to reach and exceed the 92 million meal goal five years early in 2020. Tom 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. When asked why he decided to stay on as a member of the Council, Tom said: “After 12 years of being a part of the North Texas Food Bank team, you don’t just walk away. Despite a valiant attempt, we had yet to eliminate hunger in our community- there was more to do.” Barbara Buzzell 生活委員會 READ STORY Barbara Buzzell Barbara Buzzell has supported the North Texas Food Bank in various capacities, as a community member, board member, and LIFE Council member. Barbara served as a board member for multiple terms, and afterward, she wanted to continue her support by working with other former board members to help NTFB grow. She found the combined knowledge and experiences of former NTFB board members partnered with their personal and professional associations could assist the organization's growth. One of Barbara’s favorite memories of serving on NTFB’s board is when former CEO, Jan Pruitt led the group in a brainstorm on how to tactically grow the food bank, responding to the need of the communities we serve. Jan presented the “hub and spoke” method NTFB uses today. Barbara recalls it was “so brilliant and perfect in its design”. When asked to reflect on her time with NTFB, Barbara shared that she loved being involved in the Food 4 Kids program, helping fill the bags at the Food Bank, and then hearing from staff the stories of the children who received the food. “I’m honored to have been part of an amazing group of people – staff, volunteers, and board members, who have shepherded the growth of the North Texas Food Bank.” Christina Durovich 生活委員會 READ STORY Christina Durovich Christina Durovich has supported food banks and food rescue operations across the decades. She has long understood firsthand that hunger and undernourishment directly affect families and children. Sustained nutrition improves children's physical and mental health, improves their opportunity to achieve educational success, and builds resilience to better manage stress. Christina served on NTFB's board for multiple terms, and afterward, she wanted to continue supporting the mission and collaborating with community volunteers. After her board terms, she became a LIFE Council member to work with volunteers to make tangible progress in eliminating food insecurity for everyone in North Texas. “I am humbled that during my term we worked together to strengthen NTFB’s management capabilities and solidified its operation for sustained viability for the years ahead. I see the difference that the NTFB makes daily in the countless lives in our community and in our team members.” Christina views her time with NTFB as a collage of impactful moments that have touched the lives of those in need and in turn, have touched her through their grace and resilience. Louise Gartner Long-Time Supporter READ STORY Louise Gartner A lifelong advocate for health, wellness, and nutrition, Louise Gartner was a board member and donor to the North Texas Food Bank that left a lasting impact in the fight against hunger. Described in the Dallas Observer as “a tiny, white-haired wisp of a woman with a resolve of steel,” Louise helped shape how the Food Bank operates today. In 1938, she and her two sisters founded Page Boy maternity, which revolutionized maternity clothes by making them a fashion-forward item. While her sisters were focused on the organizational and accounting side of the business, Louise was the premier designer. The company became a phenomenon and celebrities like Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor wore Page Boy clothes during their pregnancies. In the 1990s, Louise became a North Texas Food Bank board member and became the driving force behind a push to distribute more nutritious and fresh foods. Because the Food Bank did not have the facilities and budget to accommodate more fruits and vegetables at that time, Louise founded and single-handedly funded the Charitable Produce Center of Dallas. Through this program, produce that was blemished or might not otherwise sell was donated by grocery stores and then sorted and distributed to food pantries. From its inception in 1994 to when it was absorbed into the regular Food Bank processes, the Charitable Produce Center distributed over 170 million pounds of fresh produce. In addition, Louise was an advocate for the Food Bank at the state level and helped steer millions of pounds of fresh produce from farms grown at state prisons to food pantry shelves. Her passion for nutritious food has influenced the Food Bank to emphasize not just providing food, but providing nutritious, fresh food for our neighbors. Ray Hemmig 生活委員會 READ STORY Ray Hemmig Ray Hemmig’s involvement with the North Texas Food Bank started out as a professional partnership. As president of the Dallas Restaurant Association (DRA) and COO of Grandy’s Restaurants in the early 1980s, Ray was approached by the fledgling Food Bank about an innovative idea to secure unsold prepared meals from restaurants and hotels for reuse by NTFB – a program that was later named Hunger Link. Ray found this initiative not only matched the corporate citizenship values of his business, but also his personal values of helping less fortunate community members in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. “It became clear to me that the NTFB had designed yet another novel way to help the area community’s least protected to get the reliable food resources they needed. It was an easy sell for the DRA, and for me personally.” Ray joined the NTFB board, and the Food Bank and hunger relief became Grandy’s main focus for its community charitable relationships. His time on the board, including two different terms as chair and the hiring of the late CEO Jan Pruitt, grew his passion and commitment to NTFB and he became a spokesman for the organization and helped nominate and recruit new board members over the years. With the growth of the board in terms of size and talent, Ray also noticed another opportunity for NTFB, for which he collaborated with one of NTFB’s founders, Liz Minyard. “We needed to find a vehicle to keep exiting board leaders (me included) engaged after their board service term limits expired. We came up with the idea for an alumni board member club, named the NTFB LIFE Council – Leading, Investing, Feeding & Engaging. I was proud to serve alongside Liz as the Founding Co-Chairs of the Council, thereby providing an ongoing connection to the retiring board chairs and other members.” LIFE Council continues to be an incredible resource for NTFB in building relationships in the community. 阿努拉格耆那教 Long-Time Supporter READ STORY 阿努拉格耆那教 Anurag Jain learned about the North Texas Food Bank by chance in 2011. He spent most of that day handling layoffs, and his mind and heart were heavy thinking about the people who were about to face challenges as they looked for new opportunities. One of the men he spoke to that day made a tremendous impression. So much so, that when he drove by a billboard for the Food Bank, he did a double-take – seeing the likeness of that man. The billboard said, “Food for Today, Hungry Tomorrow.” That night he and his wife Gunjan reached out to the team at NTFB. To their surprise and delight, they were greeted by former Chief Philanthropy Officer Colleen Brinkman. Recognizing their shared roots, Colleen spoke Hindi with them and shared the challenges that hungry neighbors face. After learning more about the issue and supporting NTFB, he made the decision to join the board. He credits his involvement in philanthropy to his father, who faced hunger as a young man. “I have always been inspired by my father. Wearing his challenge and its impacts as a badge of honor, he reminds us that because he was so underweight – 30 pounds under to be exact – he could wear the boy's size clothing of a popular brand of shirts and could buy these for $1 cheaper which was a significant saving at that time. One of my proudest moments while working with NTFB was to be able to have my dad join me at the Food Bank’s grand opening for the Perot Family Campus with a special moment at the entrance of the building which is named Jain Way. I am proud to do this work in honor of my dad and all those who have faced hunger.” Anurag’s support has been invaluable as the Food Bank worked to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, NTFB CEO Trisha Cunningham shared that the Food Bank was facing some key challenges: the food that was to be distributed would need to be delivered in a more complex way for the safety of staff and volunteers and NTFB’s robust volunteer base was being forced to shelter in place. At that same time, Anurag and his business partner Patrick Brandt were having conversations about mass layoffs that were occurring across the hospitality industry. Utilizing creative thinking and innovation, the duo realized quickly that they could address all these issues via a COVID-19 food relief and recovery program called Get Shift Done. Thanks to this effort, their team was able to utilize technology to provide job opportunities and connect members of the hospitality workforce impacted by business shutdowns to non-profits. Get Shift Done, which officially launched at NTFB, provides displaced workers with wages performing assignments at local hunger relief non-profits serving meals to families, children, and the elderly across America and India. To date, this effort has supported 100 organizations across 10 states, serving more than 60 million meals and employing 28,000 workers. Get Shift Done was named the #1 Most Innovative Not-For-Profit Organization 2021 by Fast Company. Harry LaRosiliere Mayor of Plano READ STORY Harry LaRosiliere Harry LaRosiliere was the mayor of Plano, Texas, from 2013 to 2021, and during that time he was a strong community partner and advocate for the North Texas Food Bank. Shortly after being elected mayor, Harry started looking for ways to bring the Plano community together over a shared goal – and he found that goal in hunger-fighting. In 2014, Mayor LaRosiliere connected with the North Texas Food Bank to find ways that Plano residents and businesses could come together to address hunger in their community. The Plano Peanut Butter Drive was created to collect large amounts of shelf-stable, nutritious food that is loved by kids. Donations were distributed to NTFB programs like Food 4 Kids, which serves chronically hungry children and families. In 2019, Harry reached out to other mayors in the area and presented them with a convincing argument to join in the event. If you would help a hungry next-door neighbor, why not help someone a block away, or in a different city? In that year, the Peanut Butter Drive expanded to several other cities in Collin County. In the years since, both the number of cities and the pounds of peanut butter collected have continued to grow. It started with the Plano Peanut Butter Drive collecting 4,500 pounds of peanut butter, and in 2021, the entire North Texas service area came together to donate almost 350,000 pounds. Even with the visibility that the Peanut Butter Drive has brought to the hunger issue in North Texas, Harry says there is still so much he wants to communicate to his neighbors. “I wish more people knew how food insecure some of their coworkers and people they know are. One out of every five children [in North Texas] is food insecure… I want people to know how vital the Food Bank is for sustenance for a lot of people who otherwise could not make it.” Nihao Food Bank Initiative Community Supporter READ STORY Nihao Food Bank Initiative In 2021, the North Texas Food Bank welcomed one of its newest partnerships in the fight against hunger, the Nihao Food Bank Initiative. Nihao Food Bank Initiative is a Chinese American, volunteer-driven grassroots movement. Its goal is to raise awareness about hunger in North Texas, improve community engagement among the Chinese American diaspora and direct resources toward NTFB to fight hunger. “很難相信飢餓影響了這個偉大國家的九分之一美國人，”你好聯合主席之一、EA 保險和金融服務公司的管理合夥人 James Huang 說。 “我們許多第一代移民都把美國稱為我們的第二個家，我們需要讓這個新家更適合每個人。” In addition to James, Nihao is led by Bing Xie, former Executive Officer and SVP of Global Sales and Applications at Texas Instruments, and Jane Li, Director of Operations for Siemens Logistics. The founders were inspired to form Nihao after learning about another volunteer-driven, inclusive giving effort, 飢餓米桃. Nihao raised nearly $120,000 in its inaugural year and has hosted a variety of volunteer events. Nihao also began a Youth Ambassador program of dedicated high school students who will volunteer and fundraise. “We want to expand our efforts to a broader Chinese American population and create positive impact,” James said. “We hope to engage our community by advocating awareness of the hunger issue.” Kent Rathbun Community Supporter READ STORY Kent Rathbun Kent Rathbun has been a renowned chef and restaurateur in Dallas for more than 30 years. While his culinary skills have delighted his many restaurant guests over the decades, his philanthropic contributions have helped feed those neighbors who do not know where their next meal will come from. Kent first became involved with hunger relief as part of fellow celebrity chef and restaurateur Stephan Pyles’s Share our Strength event that raises money for hunger relief around the world. Since 2001, he has been the lead chef for what is now known as Taste of the Cowboys, one of the North Texas Food Bank’s signature events in partnership with the Dallas Cowboys. “Dallas has always been a very philanthropic city. My wife and I try to do everything we can for the community, and it is just very fortunate that as chefs we have something that people are interested in obtaining and can raise money for important causes.” Through his involvement with NTFB, Kent has become more aware of the complexities of the hunger issue in North Texas. He recalls an experience when he taught cooking classes on behalf of the Food Bank in an area where many of the participants lacked the funds to purchase nutritious food. He taught a group of mothers how to cook healthy meals for their families for less than $10. “I have to tell you, that experience changed me a lot, because I realized there is way more hunger out there than I thought, and it effects not only adults, but children, which is horrible. They just do not have the resources to buy the foods that we take for granted every day and learning that was one of the things that has really stuck with me.” Kent hopes in the next 40 years that chefs, restaurants and institutions can better manage waste and find ways to channel food that is not being used into the hands of those that need it. And while he believes it’s unrealistic to think hunger will completely go away, it is something we can keep working toward. “Cooking for people is a very loving thing, and I think that feeding people that are in need, whether they are elderly or someone who just lost their job, or children in schools, it is very important.” Katherine Perot Reeves Long-Time Supporter READ STORY Katherine Perot Reeves For Katherine Perot Reeves, being a hunger fighter runs in the family. Outside of the Food Bank’s Perot Family Campus is a statue of an X, titled “Lulu May’s Mark”, named in honor of her grandmother and her legacy of kindness and compassion. During the Great Depression, an X was placed on the curb of Katherine’s grandmother’s home to indicate it was a place where hungry people could be fed. It was a sign of nourishment and hope and a reminder that there were people like Lulu May and her family who cared about them. Katherine was also inspired by her Aunt Bette Perot’s longstanding commitment to NTFB and so she was honored when Jan Pruitt invited her to serve on the board. Katherine has since served in some capacity since 2011. It's an experience she says has been deeply rewarding, especially as the pandemic intensified the hunger needs for so many. “During the pandemic, I was lucky enough to have the time to help out with our mobile distributions. I enjoyed being in the field and getting to know our staff, different community groups and our volunteers better. Most meaningful, however, were the brief exchanges shared with our grateful clients I wish more people could see the true faces of hunger and how many lives are elevated and more hope-filled because of the award-winning work of the North Texas Food Bank.” Clarice Tinsley Advocate/Reporter READ STORY Clarice Tinsley Clarice Tinsley has been reporting the news of Dallas Fort-Worth since 1978, and during that time she has consistently reported on and advocated for the North Texas Food Bank. Shortly after we opened in 1982, she began reporting on the North Texas Food Bank and the need for hunger-fighting resources in North Texas. As an outside observer over the last 40 years, she has noticed that one thing has remained the same. “While the physical space has changed and expanded what doesn’t change is the dedication of the staff, volunteers, and partners to help North Texans living with food insecurity.” That dedication has been the fuel that has grown the Food Bank from distributing 400,000 pounds of food in 1982 to 125 million meals in 2020. Alongside her coverage of countless Food Bank stories, Clarice Tinsley has volunteered her own time at many NTFB events, starting shortly after our founding and continuing through the present day. For her hunger-fighting efforts, she has received the North Texas Food Bank Lifetime Achievement Award that is given to those community advocates and volunteers that have spent decades working to eliminate hunger in North Texas.