The pandemic brought historic demand on Tarrant Area Food Bank, and the need in the 13 counties it serves is still high.
"Things were looking up but we're still at a million meals a week and with the unfortunate surge we're having, we don't see any relief in the very near future," said Stephen Raeside, chief development officer.
Help is on the way through a new partnership with Hunger Mitao. Raj and Anna Asava of Plano launched the volunteer-driven grassroots movement in 2017. Its slogan partly in Hindi, Hunger Mitao translates to "wipe out hunger" not just in North Texas but with its spirit of "give where you live," end hunger in the U.S.
The Asavas' told NBC News their campaign is twofold: They hope it helps people who may need assistance — including Indian Americans — as well as get people to start talking about the issue of hunger.
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“Indian American community members are now visibly engaged and have made possible hundreds of thousands of meals for our food-challenged neighbors across North Texas,” said Raj Asava.
“We need to become visible on the front lines, we need to be seen as participants in the wider community,” Anna Asava added.
"It partnered first with the North Texas Food Bank which serves the eastern side of the metroplex. And they've taken it to New York and Houston and now we're the next to participate and we could not be happier," Raeside said.
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To help get the effort off the ground in 2017, the Asavas donated $100,000 to the North Texas Food Bank. Now several years later, HungerMitao has enabled 35 million nutritious meals for Feeding America and its network of food banks.
"With a rally cry of HungerMitao (wipe out Hunger) the Indian American community in the Tarrant area is energized and looking forward to working with TAFB to ensure no one in the area goes hungry," Raj Asava wrote to NBC5 in an email. "We are now conducting Hunger Awareness sessions over zoom with folks in the Tarrant area. Hope to raise awareness and engage the community in the fight against hunger."
August is India’s independence month and for the last three years, Hunger Mitao has observed it as Independence from Hunger Month. The group says a month-long food for funds drive campaign is optimal in increasing awareness about the hunger issue while achieving impactful results.
"There are two components. The volunteering aspect is still critical. We need people to come in and help us sort and pack and they're critical to our food distribution. But we also need the funds and Hunger Mitao will focus on these elements and together will ensure we can keep providing those one million meals a week to the community," Raeside said.