Just over one year ago, the whole world came to a screeching halt with the rise and spread of the novel coronavirus. A year later, we all still feel the pandemic’s far-reaching impacts on the economy and public health. COVID-19 sparked the first economic recession since 2007, leaving millions of Americans without jobs and turning to food banks for healthy, reliable meals. This year is especially challenging for food banks due to agricultural damage from historic Winter Storm Uri. The long spell of below-freezing temperatures blanketed the Lone Star State over Valentine’s week, icing over delicate spring produce throughout Texas. With acres of crops destroyed, fewer food bank volunteers and food insecurity on the rise, the Houston Food Bank faces challenges to meet the increasing demand for food assistance.

What is food insecurity and how is it different from hunger? The USDA defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food” and hunger as “an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity.” In February, 2.6 million Texas households reported not having enough to eat and 208,749 Houstonians applied for unemployment benefits in January 2021. Food insecurity is twice as high now as it was before the pandemic began last year, presenting new challenges for food banks.

Despite these grim circumstances, there are many ways to ease anxiety and bring hope to individuals in need thanks to the generosity of charitable organizations, individuals and businesses within the community. Since 2017, IronEdge has stood behind the Houston Food Bank and its fight against food insecurity. Experiencing the hardships of Hurricane Harvey, Winter Storm Uri and COVID-19 fueled our passion to help the community we serve and step in to offer support during challenging times. Ranking among the top five largest Houston-area Better Business Bureau charitable organizations, the Houston Food Bank is on a mission to provide food for better lives in southeast Texas.

How does the Houston Food Bank receive food? They receive food from a variety of sources including excess produce from farms, imperfect grocery store items and food drives. Volunteers sort donations and distribute them with the help of 1,500 community partners. Did you know the Houston Food Bank provides other services in addition to food provisions? Job training, nutrition education and providing school supplies for teachers are just a few additional resources available to the public to attain long-term stability and help each individual get back on their feet. Since 1982, the food bank has been bringing healthy meals and assisting community members in need.

Here are a few ways you can safely help your community and support the Houston Food Bank.

  1. Monetary Donationsdonations provide food throughout the food bank’s 18-county service area. Every one dollar donated provides three meals to someone in need.
  2. Volunteer – volunteering is as simple as completing the Houston Food Bank registration form and selecting a date and time. Volunteers will follow COVID-19 safety guidelines and can assist in a variety of ways including warehouse, kitchen, call center and food delivery projects.
  3. Food Donations – donate food and supplies through virtual food drives or drop off nonperishable items in a red barrel at the entrance of your local HEB, Kroger or Randalls.
  4. Mask Donations – mask donations are extremely helpful and go to staff and Partners who work to distribute food in the community. Email the food bank directly to make a donation.

As the weather warms up with sunny spring days, why not warm some hearts with a satisfying meal? At IronEdge, we love IT, but we also love to cook for our families, friends and share hearty meals with others. We’re on a mission to end the hunger pangs in our hometown and beyond. Together, as a community, we can make a difference in the lives of those experiencing food insecurity and help them get back on their feet.