Trisha Cunningham, CEO, North Texas Food Bank
Trisha Cunningham: Hi, I'm Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank. You know, hunger is associated with so many of the issues that we see in our community today. If you are going to work and you don't have food you can't perform well, if you're a student it impacts your ability to learn, and so many senior citizens have health issues that could be prevented with nutritious food. If you don't have food on the table, nothing else matters.
When you look around and you see all the skyscrapers and you see all the growth in north Texas, you think, why should there be a hunger problem? But the truth is that there's about 800,000 people in our community that go hungry on a regular basis. What's really troubling is whenever you see so much food across the country and even here in north Texas that goes to waste. We waste food in our own homes, the retailers waste food, and then even there's food that's wasted in the farms.
What we try to do at the North Texas Food Bank is we try to access the excess. This food that would normally go to waste, we try to get that food and try to make it available to those people that need it.
Community gardens not only play a huge part in helping us with hunger relief, but they also help children understand where healthy food comes from. That their carrots come from the ground, not from a can, and they know that that is good, nutritious food that they are able to access. We have many different community garden partners across north Texas, and they provide a portion of what they grow to their local food pantries.
You know there's food deserts all across the country, and there are food deserts right here in north Texas as well. Food deserts just mean that you really don't have access to a traditional grocery store where you can buy healthy food. You may have access to processed food or fast food or convenience store food, but really we know what you need is to be able to access quality nutritious food on a regular basis.
In south Dallas, we have a partner agency called Our Community Pantry that is in partnership with St. Philip's community center and school. In that pantry we are able to allow people who qualify to be able to come in and grocery shop just like anyone at a grocery store. They're able to get the kind of nutritious food that they need that's important for their livelihood and their health.
The truth is, hunger looks a lot like you and me. It's the senior citizens who are trying to live off the Social Security after they've worked their entire lives. It's the veterans that are coming back home and looking for work, it's the families with children that are trying to learn, it's those communities that are hit by natural disasters.
We call these clients our neighbors and we provide hope for them, and if we truly love our neighbors as ourselves, we'll want the best for them and we're gonna make sure that they have access to whatever they need to be able to thrive in our community.