Biggest Effort To Feed Houston’s Hungry

Houston is now the home of the largest food bank in the nation. The 308,000 square-foot Houston Food Bank officially opened for business in East Houston today. It is the link to nearly 500 food pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies that are helping address the issue of hunger every day.

Hundreds were on hand for the celebration of the new Houston Food Bank. It’s four times larger than the previous location. It includes three facilities: a giant warehouse, a freezer building and a truck center.

Mayor Parker

Mayor Parker speaking at Houston Food Bank ceremony

At the formal ribbon cutting ceremony, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said while the city has many great nonprofit organizations, few meet a fundamental need so effectively and efficiently, and with a constant commitment to doing a better job to help feed the estimated 35,000 families that go hungry every day.

“The Houston Food Bank is a regional resource that serves 18 counties, and almost 500 community based pantries. But when you think about the step it took to move into this building, it is in the tradition of forward thinking Houstonians, who are always dreaming big, thinking big, but then putting those dreams into action.”

The event drew Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

“Texas is fortunate that throughout our state, we have a dynamic number of food banks that are part of our Texas network that meet the needs all across the state and partnerships are what it’s all about. That when we get together, we don’t think about why things can’t be done. We talk about how to do things better. You have no excuse for not helping your neighbor in need with this dynamic facility that will serve the needs of Texans for many years.” 

A capital campaign that raised the 55-million dollars needed to pay for the facility was headed by HEB’s Scott McClelland.

“What was so amazing in running a campaign during a recession is that no one that we asked for money ever said no, and that’s a tribute to how generous and how forward thinking the city of Houston is. And so we’re proud to be able to make a real dent in hunger as a result of that, and I think the city is gonna be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

The ceremony marked the biggest expansion in the 29 year history of the Houston Food Bank. President and CEO Brian Greene says the goal of the new facility is to recover a lot of food that goes wasted:

“All the way at the farm level, where about 3-billion pounds of produce is grown each year but not harvested, at the packing level, where 3-billion pounds of produce is harvested and not sold, all the way to the supermarkets. There’s huge opportunities for us, but they require more work, and they do require some cost, and so we just have to be able to capture it, then we can make a real difference in the community.”

Houston Food Bank workers packing food

Houston Food Bank workers pack food to be distributed

Besides the daily distribution of food that happens six days each week, the new facility provides space for more food, more volunteers, and more ways to help the nearly one million families served every year.