The battle against food insecurity. We can all enlist!

A day volunteering at the Houston Food Bank

Volunteering at the Houston Food Bank -- making shelf-stable children's food boxes.

HOUSTON – I spent Monday morning volunteering at the Houston Food Bank. If you’re looking for a way to give back to the community, you should also consider it.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from today’s experience. I had never volunteered at the Houston Food Bank before. I was in for quite a surprise. Even though I knew what the food bank does, I was shocked at the scale of the operation. It is the largest food bank in the country and the the demand for their services is skyrocketing in the age of COVID-19. And even with the overwhelming demand, the people here make the process look easy. They have it down to a science.

My task was simple. I had to assemble shelf-stable (i.e. long-lasting) food boxes for children. Into each box I put three Jack Link’s chicken snack packs, four cups of Skippy creamy peanut butter, a six-pack of Sunmaid raisin snacks, two juice boxes and five single-serving bags of whole wheat crackers. Each box supplies one kid for one week.

One week worth of shelf-stable food for a child.

I didn’t get to meet any of the recipients of these boxes. I didn’t have to look into the eyes of the hungry kids who would be eating the food. But with each box I filled, I couldn’t help but imagine them. What are their stories? Did mom lose a job because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Did the family go bankrupt after a medical emergency? Or, is the family income just too low to feed everyone?

Shelf-stable food box for children. One box per child per week.

I’ve read articles about the immense amount of food insecurity we’re facing as a nation right now. I have seen the news footage of the cars lined up by the hundreds all over Houston, the state of Texas and beyond, waiting for food assistance. It wasn’t until I packed those boxes, though, that it really hit home. This is a really big deal!

The people at the Houston Food Bank, volunteers and employees alike, put out 1800 food boxes for children each day. Overall, they are handing out a million pounds of food daily during this crisis. And, while they are still able to meet the increasing needs of the community, it’s not possible to do that without community support. The Houston Food Bank needs assistance -- both funding and time -- in order to succeed.

Pallets of food boxes for children. 1,800 of these are distributed per day across the community.

I, for one, had been looking for a way to help in these crazy times. I am so incredibly fortunate to still be employed. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. But I haven’t always been this fortunate. I have struggled in the past. I have needed help. And people have been there for me. Now it’s time for me to be there for someone else.

If you can, I would strongly urge you to lend a helping hand, too. Whether it is a monetary donation or the donation of time, your assistance helps keep our community connected and thriving.

If you would like to help -- or if you or someone you know NEEDS help -- it’s easy! Everything you need to know is at the Houston Food Bank Website.

Click Here if you want to help or if you need help.

I want to thank the Houston Food Bank for making my experience so enriching. You are kind, caring, friendly, warm, and full of energy. It was a true pleasure and an honor to assist you and the Houston community!

Eric Braate volunteering at the Houston Food Bank

About the Author:

Meteorologist, runner, triathlete and proud Houstonian.