Brazos Valley 2020: Future of the Food Bank
The Brazos Valley Food Bank wants to shut off its forklifts. It wants its shelves to be empty. It doesn't want to need volunteers. It wants to eliminate the need for a food bank.
But first, it wants to take care of the 1 in 5 families in the Brazos Valley that is considered "food insecure".
"Nobody wants to see our most vulnerable population children and seniors not being fed," Theresa Mangopora the Executive Director of the Brazos Valley Food Bank says. " [Parents are] having to make difficult choices, not eating so the kid could eat, the senior not taking medicine so they can eat, or feeding their dogs over themselves."
Mangopora says the real future of fighting hunger is more than just filling up your local food pantry.
"Just the food bank alone would not be enough," she says.
The long term goal involves efficiency and prevention. The efficiency side could be satisfied with more technology, perhaps an app that could streamline pickup processes and get folks back to work or childcare much faster than waiting in line or shopping at a pantry. While they won't rule out app use for the Brazos Valley in the future, Mangopora says the root of solving hunger is keeping it from happening in the first place.
Together We Grow aims to fill that goal.
"It's our anti-poverty program," Mangopora says. "Let's get people so that they don't need to actually even go to a food pantry and ask for food."
Programs vary in their approach across the nation, but the Brazos Valley Food Bank wants to get people tools to succeed in the professional world. "Ours is very much about making someone job-ready so they can go into the trade that they want, but it is an intensive course. The folks that are coming to us have very individualized challenges."
Mangopora knows it is an uphill battle, but giving people the tools to help themselves, and eventually others, may be what breaks the cycle of hunger.
"We have to make sure they don't need to be fed," Mangopora says.
Until that day, we can do our part.
"I don't have football tickets to give you," Mangopora laughed. "I just give you the warm fuzzy feeling in your heart from doing the right thing, it's not the same thing for everybody."
The annual Food for Families Food Drive is Wednesday, December 4th, from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Brazos Center in Bryan.