December 2011  

Houston Food Bank – Filling Pantries, Filling Lives
Houston Food Bank’s new home
Houston Food Bank’s new home is at
535 Portwall Street at I-10 East inside Loop 610 East.

The Houston Food Bank, a non-profit charitable organization, is a network of nearly 500 food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and other agencies, feeding more than 100,000 people each week.  A source of food for hunger-relief charities in Harris and 17 other southeast Texas counties, the Houston Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, whose mission is “to feed America’s hungry …and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”

According to the Houston Area Survey conducted by Rice sociology professor Dr. Stephen Klineberg, one in four families in Houston reports having trouble buying groceries.  Hunger in America 2010, a report prepared for the Houston Food Bank, shows that close to half of the families (49%) who receive emergency food assistance include at least one employed adult and that between 40 and 60% of them had to make choices between paying for food or paying the mortgage, transportation, utilities, or medicine and medical care.

The Houston Food Bank seeks food donations, which are then distributed to local charitable programs like church food pantries, homeless shelters, safe havens for the battered and abused, and nutrition sites for children and the elderly.   Fresh produce, meat and nonperishables are distributed from the new warehouse at 535 Portwall, and hot meals are prepared and distributed from Keegan Center, a 15,000 square-foot industrial kitchen.   Additional community services range from nutrition education to assistance with food stamp applications and hands-on job training.  Red Barrels offer a convenient way for grocery shoppers to donate nonperishables for their neighbors in need

A lot of canned peas, bottles of fruit juice, frozen chicken, fresh apples…and thousands of other items are donated to the Houston Food Bank by the food industry and the community each year.  In December, the Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association holds its annual “Gift of Produce” presentation to the Houston Food Bank.  This year, its 25th, the drive is expected to yield more than 2.5 million pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables for distribution to the Food Bank’s member agencies.

The Houston Food Bank uses volunteers six days a week in two locations—the main warehouse on Portwall and Keegan Kitchen, 2445 North Freeway.  Volunteer support, whether by individuals or groups, is crucial to its mission of leading the fight against hunger.  In January, volunteers are needed to collect and organize food donations and build food boxes for the Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive kick-off event.  Kroger, Randalls and H-E-B will be joining forces for this, the largest food drive in the history of Texas, on Super Bowl weekend.  You can also donate to your grocer's Houston Food Bank red barrel, beginning in January up to Super Bowl Sunday in February.  All of the donations made at the food retailers will benefit the Houston Food Bank.

Empty Bowls Houston
Photo courtesy of
Houston Food Bank website

Every spring for the past seven years, ceramicists and artists of many media have come together to create and donate handmade bowls for Empty Bowls Houston.  In exchange for a minimum $25 cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.  Presented by Whole Foods Market, Empty Bowls Houston is implemented by the artists, the Houston Food Bank, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, where a number of the bowls have been shown in exhibition.

There are many more ways to support the effort for hunger relief.  Visit to learn more.

Material for this article was taken in whole or in part from the Houston Food Bank website.