Fighting Hunger: Meeting People Where They Are

The North Texas Food Bank provides 200,000 meals a day across 13 counties

NBCUniversal, Inc.

On a drizzling Thursday morning, the line formed early for the North Texas Food Bank's mobile pantry, in the parking lot at Dallas County Community College District's Richland College campus in Garland.

"Good morning," Imelda Rivas greeted people with a smile. "This is fun!"

Rivas is a student, a volunteer, and a recipient of food from the North Texas Food Bank.

"A lot of people don't know this is available," Rivas said. "From my personal experience, when I've taken some of this food home, it's helped me out."

The mobile pantry at DCCCD Richland College started to help its students, but it extended to the entire community.

"We try to do comprehensive services and reach them where they are," Manny Romero said. He coordinates the mobile pantry for DCCCD. "Just being over here in the community, the community can have easier access to the food they need."

"It helps me know how to eat healthy," Jose Belmontes said. Belmontes is also a student, volunteer, and recipient. "I was the same family in line to get food, now I'm on the other side helping them, so it feels really good."

According to the North Texas Food Bank, there are 800,000 people in North Texas who are food insecure.

"800,000 people not knowing where their next meal is coming from is a pretty significant issue, and everyone needs to care," Erica Yeager of the North Texas Food Bank said. "Hunger is most definitely an issue here in North Texas."

The North Texas Food Bank warehouse in Plano is about the size of four football fields. It turns over product every two weeks. It provided 77 million meals last year in the 13-counties it serves and is on target for 82 million meals this year.

"Hunger is often hidden. It's in every zip code in North Texas and it looks like you, it looks like me," Yeager said.

The NTFB has a goal to close the hunger gap by the year 2025.

"That's our greatest hope," Yeager said.

Yeager said there are four ways people can help. Give money: $1 provides three meals. Give time: The NTFB had 40,000 volunteers. Give food at food drives. And finally, give a voice to the issue of hunger to generate awareness.

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