Houston Food Bank grows to become America’s largest food bank


HOUSTONTexas (KIAH) Over the last several decades, the Houston Food Bank has grown to become America’s largest food bank.

The Houston Food Bank is almost forty years old. In the course of those years, the non-profit has built a surplus of food resources to prevent hunger. Not just for Houstonians, but for people across the country.

Since 1982, the Houston Food Bank serves 18 counties with the biggest need in rural and low-income areas. 

People are impacted. A lot of times it’s just loss of hours in a job or it’s losing a job. So we don’t always serve the same people all the time. The goal is to rescue perishable and non-perishable food that would be thrown into a landfill in other areas where food insecurity isn’t as big of an issue. What we found is that something like 3,000,000,000 pounds of produce is grown in our country but not harvested and another 3,000,000 pounds of produce is harvest but not sold. In other words, left to rot in the field.

Amy Ragan, Chief Development Officer for Houston Food Bank

The food bank is responsible for securing large donations. The next step is to sort through the food to ensure all nutritional requirements are met. 

Once that’s done, donations are distributed to about 1,500 community partners like pantries, colleges, and churches. That entity then gives the food to its clients but Ragan says it’s more than just that.

“The Houston Food Bank very early on realized it wasn’t just calories calories calories. We needed to think about nutritious calories and nutritious foods,” said Ragan.

Ragan says the quality of resources the food bank supplies has shifted over the years. Today’s main focus is on perishable products like meat and produce.

“People always wonder why low-income people who don’t have enough to eat are often overweight or obese. This is because they’re having to buy that non-healthy high-carb you know cheap food just to save off hunger. But they aren’t able to afford a lot of the nutritious food,” said Ragan.

When the food bank first opened its doors, they were out-sourcing 35 million pounds of food. Now, the non-profit rescues 250 to 300 thousand pounds of short-dated meat each month.

Ragan says the organization can donate more food of substance. Which often lifts a burden off families allowing them to prioritize other necessities.

“I also think they see it as an opportunity to get back up on their feet. You know if they get some assistance then they have – it frees up other funding – money that they have to get the rent paid. And to do some other things they can do and so still keep a roof over their heads,” said Ragan.

The Houston Food Bank says along with food, monetary donations are a vital part of the organization. one dollar can provide three meals.

For more information on how to volunteer and give monetary donations visit the Houston Food Bank website.

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