Tarrant Area Food Bank
Tarrant Area Food Bank was established in 1982 to address the issue of hunger in the North Texas region, by securing surplus unmarketable but wholesome food and grocery products for distribution to area relief agencies.
Tarrant Area Food Bank is the distribution hub of a 13-county network of hunger-relief charities and social services centers in the following counties: Bosque, Cooke, Denton, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, Tarrant, and Wise.
As a central clearinghouse for donated food and groceries, the Food Bank receives fresh, frozen and nonperishable food donated by the food industry and the community. This product is distributed from a 69,000-square-foot (6,400 m2) warehouse in Fort Worth to over 300 partner agencies that serve abuse victims, children, the elderly, the chronically ill, the unemployed, the working poor, the homeless and other Texans in need.
Tarrant Area Food Bank provides emergency food for an estimated 279,800 different people annually with about 40,300 different people receiving emergency food assistance in any given week.
In 2009, 43% of the members of households served by the Tarrant Area Food Bank were children under 18 years old, 78% had incomes below the federal poverty level, and 13% were homeless.
Not to be confused with other food banks in Fort Worth, Tarrant Area Food Bank is a member of Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest—The Nation’s Food Bank Network). This national network of more than 200 nonprofit food banks serves all 50 states. Tarrant Area Food Bank also belongs to the Texas Food Bank Network, which coordinates sharing of food donations and other resources among the 18 member food banks.
Several types of organizations operate emergency food programs of the Tarrant Area Food Bank. In 2009, 67% of pantries, 47% of kitchens, and 33% of shelters were run by faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations. Private nonprofit organizations with no religious affiliation also made up a large share of other types of agencies served by the Tarrant Area Food Bank providing food assistance.
Chartered by the State of Texas in December 1981, Tarrant Area Food Bank began distributing food in October of the following year. Three months later, at the end of 1982, the Food Bank had distributed donated food to 50 charities in Fort Worth. Since then, with the help of thousands of volunteers and 300 partner charities, Tarrant Area Food Bank has distributed more than 263 million pounds of food and household products.
In the late 1990s, TAFB began implementing programs to complement its food distribution program. The Food Bank now offers nutrition education to individuals and families receiving food assistance, two different feeding programs for children and free culinary job training for low-income adults, as well as assistance to individuals and families in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) and related benefits.
TAFB provides these products through the following programs:
- Food Distribution—TAFB's primary focus is to gather donations of perishable and non-perishable food and grocery products from corporate donors and local food drives, and to deliver them to food pantries and other relief agencies
- BackPacks for Kids—provides shelf-stable meals to elementary school children who run the risk of going hungry over the weekend (these children eat free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch meals at school during the week, often the only nutritious meals the children receive)
- Kid's Cafe—provides evening meals to children in after-school programs provided by partner agencies
- Cooking Matters—provides nutrition education and cooking classes to families, allowing them to make healthy food choices on a limited budget
- Community Kitchen—provides free culinary job training to unemployed and low-income men and women and at the same time provides nutritious meals to partner charities.
- SNAP (Food Stamp) Outreach—aids individuals and families in accessing food SNAP and other state or federal assistance programs.
- Mobile Pantry—provides groceries to families in need in remote locations or in areas with limited access to fresh and frozen items.
- Community Garden—provided in collaboration with partners, this program enables communities to create their own local, sustainable food systems.
In 2008-09, TAFB received over $36 million in support, of which over $29 million consisted of donated food and grocery items and other in-kind donations. The Food Bank distributed over 19 million pounds, enough food for more than 15 million meals.