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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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BASIC QUESTIONS

What geographical area does Tarrant Area Food Bank serve?

Our service region stretches from the Red River on the North to nearly Waco on the South and out to Mineral Wells and Stephenville on the West. This area includes the 13 counties of Cooke (on the Red River), Denton, Wise, Tarrant, Johnson, Parker, Palo Pinto (Mineral Wells), Erath (Stephenville), Hood, Somervell, Hamilton, Bosque and Hill (Hillsboro - almost Waco). See a map of this 13-county region.

Where is the Food Bank located?

At 2600 Cullen Street, Fort Worth, 76107 in a business park just northwest of downtown. The business park is off a section of White Settlement Road that runs east and west between Henderson Street and University Avenue. For directions, see our map.

How much food does Tarrant Area Food Bank distribute?

During our Fiscal Year 2010 (July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010), we distributed an average of almost 2 million pounds per month, or 23 million pounds to our Partner Agencies and other regional food banks. That’s enough food to fill 575 or more 18-wheeler trailer trucks to capacity (30,000 to 40,000 pounds per trailer), or 23 million pounds is also enough food for more than 17.8 million meals.

How many people does the Food Bank help feed?

According to a regional study done in 2009 for Tarrant Area Food Bank, our network of 300 charities provides food to more than 281,000 DIFFERENT people in a year. (The study was part of the national survey commissioned by Feeding America and published as Hunger in America 2010.)

Have the number of people needing food assistance increased or decreased recently? Why?

For each of the fiscal years 2008-09 and 2009-10, the number of households served by food pantries in Tarrant Area Food Bank’s 13-county service region increased 20 percent. In this region, approximately one in five children and one in seven of all residents face hunger at some time during the year. Rising food and energy prices beginning in 2005 along with the financial and housing crisis of 2008-09 played the dominant role in pushing more families and individuals toward poverty and hunger.

How successful is Tarrant Area Food Bank in its fight against hunger?

Fighting hunger is an ongoing battle as the population grows and the economy expands and contracts. Tarrant Area Food Bank and its network of Partner Agencies are providing groceries to more than 40,000 households a month and serving more than 500,000 meals and snacks a month. The more donations of food, funds and volunteer time the Food Bank receives, the more food it can distribute to those Partner Agencies.

What is the Food Bank doing to help people support themselves so they don’t depend on charity?

Tarrant Area Food Bank offers several programs that directly or indirectly help people help themselves:

  • Cooking Matters™ (formerly named Operation Frontline) provides nutrition education and food preparation classes specifically designed to teach families how to obtain sufficient nutrition on a low-income budget.
  • Kids Cafes serve prepared meals in after-school programs to provide sufficient nourishment for impoverished children so they can focus on learning.
  • BackPacks for Kids help children develop normally and be ready for school by providing food over the weekends.
  • The Community Kitchen offers culinary job training for low-income adults seeking a career earning more than minimum wage.
  • The Food Bank’s SNAP (Food Stamp)/Community Outreach staff are available to community organizations, including our Partner Agencies, to explain to individuals and families the benefits of the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly named Food Stamp Program) and to help them apply for SNAP.

Participants in SNAP can make their own independent selections of foods rather than just accepting whatever donated food the local private food pantry offers. Also, food pantries are usually open only during regular business hours. A single mom who works usually can’t take time to go the local food pantry. Using her SNAP debit card, she can go to the grocery store any time.

FOOD DONATIONS

Where does Tarrant Area Food Bank get most of its food?

Most of the food Tarrant Area Food Bank distributes is donated by the food industry, including growers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers. This food, about 60% of the time, is fresh or frozen. Thus, the nonperishable food donated for food drives fills a critical gap in the food from commercial donors. The Food Bank always needs more canned and boxed foods.

What time of year is food needed most?

All year round. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. However, donations are often the lowest in February and March and again during the summer. The Food Bank encourages groups to hold food drives during these times.

What are the top 5 most needed foods?

Canned Meat, Fish or Peanut Butter, Canned Vegetables, Canned Fruits, Dried Beans and Rice. Donate food today.

Does the Food Bank take baby food?

The Food Bank can accept baby formula and cereals. Jars of baby food must be in the original cases of the manufacturer.

Do you accept food from individuals who are not contributing to a food drive?

Tarrant Area Food Bank accepts nonperishable foods from individuals as well as from food drives. We can also accept produce from a garden.

Do you accept refrigerated or frozen foods?

Approximately 60% of the food donated by the food industry is fresh or frozen foods. During the Fall/Holiday Food Drive we invite individuals and groups to donate frozen turkeys. Learn more about the food industry.

Do you collect food from restaurants (banquets, hotels, weddings)?

Yes. The Food Bank rescues food from restaurants and from delis and meat counters of major grocery chains. Through the Store Donation program, our truck fleet picks up fresh and frozen foods from more than 70 grocery stores each week.

Do you take deer meat?

If it is commercially processed.

Does Tarrant Area Food Bank accept turkey gift certificates/Tom Thumb Community Bucks/etc.?


Yes!

DELIVERY OF FOOD DONATIONS FROM FOOD DRIVES AND INDIVIDUALS

Will the Food Bank pick up our donations?

Tarrant Area Food Bank can only pick up donations of 750 pounds or more that are scheduled with us at least two weeks in advance of the pick-up date. To schedule a pick-up, please fill out and submit our Transportation Form. During the week, the Food Bank’s drivers and trucks are busy picking up commercial food donations. During November and December when many of the largest food drives are held, the Food Bank depends on volunteer drivers with trucks from commercial distributors and trucking companies to pick up the larger donations from school districts and corporations.

Are they any other places in the community where I can drop my donations?

In Tarrant County during November and December, individuals, families and smaller food drive groups can drop off their donations at their neighborhood fire stations. Volunteers or the Food Bank pick up these collections from the fire stations. The rest of the year food donations need to be dropped off at Tarrant Area Food Bank.

When can I deliver my food donations? (What time of day?)

The Food Bank can receive smaller donations in its lobby during the following times: Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Larger food donations that need to be unloaded directly into the warehouse can be delivered Monday through Thursday, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Friday, between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Where are you located?

At 2600 Cullen Street, Fort Worth, 76107 in a business park off a section of White Settlement Road that runs east and west between Henderson Street and University Avenue. For directions, see our Map.

FOOD HANDLING AT THE FOOD BANK

How does Tarrant Area Food Bank make sure the food it distributes is safe to eat?

Much of the food received from food companies is in unopened cases and shrink-wrapped in stacks on pallets. That food does not have to be inspected before it is distributed.
 
Food from food drives and unsold product from grocery shelves goes through Quality Control in our warehouse. There, volunteers sort, inspect and pack food items into boxes for distribution to our partner hunger-relief charities. All volunteers are instructed on what to look for to determine if food in a can or box is still good or if it has been contaminated and must be discarded. Experienced Food Bank staff members supervise the volunteers.

If a food item distributed by Tarrant Area Food Bank is recalled by the manufacturer, what does the Food Bank do?

Tarrant Area Food Bank follows the directions of the national organization to which it belongs, Feeding America, the national network of regional Food Banks. Feeding America alerts all its member food banks and provides all the information Tarrant Area Food Bank needs to track down any of the recalled items that may be in its warehouse.
    
If the Food Bank has distributed any of a recalled food to its Partner Agencies, the Food Bank will know it from its inventory tracking system. If Tarrant Area Food Bank has distributed the recalled item, staff immediately alert Partner Agencies so they can search their stores of food for it. If a Partner Agency has already distributed any of the recalled item, the agency can notify its clients.

What kind of inventory system does the Food Bank have for tracking food?

The Food Bank uses an accounting system that tracks items by donor and lot number.

How much does the Food Bank spend on freight costs to get food to its warehouse?

The Food Bank operates its own truck fleet and also pays outside companies for freight packaging and transportation. Our total transportation budget to move food from donors and into our warehouse is more than $1,000,000.00 a year. 

FOOD RECIPIENTS

Who are the people who receive food assistance?

Most people who seek food assistance have to swallow their pride before going to a pantry or soup kitchen. Many are hard-working low-wage earners without health insurance who are trying to support families while dealing with medical bills, major car repairs or other situations that become financial crises because of their low incomes. Others are living on fixed Social Security incomes—people such as senior citizens or individuals with severe disabilities or life-threatening chronic illnesses. Some are middle-income earners who have been laid off and have spent their savings while job hunting.
 
Of all the people served by Tarrant Area Food Bank’s network of partner charities, 35% are children. In addition to eating groceries from pantries or even meals at soup kitchens, these children may eat at one of the Food Bank’s Kids Cafes after school or take home over the weekend a backpack of food supplied by the Food Bank.

Does the Food Bank serve a lot of illegal immigrants?

According to a regional survey done in 2009 for Tarrant Area Food Bank as part of a national study, 83% of the recipients served by the Food Bank’s partner charities are U.S. citizens. (The national study, which was commissioned by Feeding America, is done every four years.)

How can a family or individual get food from Tarrant Area Food Bank?

Tarrant Area Food Bank itself does not provide food directly to people. We supply food to the hunger-relief charities and social service agencies that serve individuals and families in our 13-county region.
 
Individuals and families seeking food assistance can find help by calling the three-digit phone number 2-1-1; or if calling from a cell phone, dial 817-258-8100. These two phone numbers reach United Way’s Information and Referral staff, who can give the caller information about social service agencies that serve their home ZIP Code area.

How does a person qualify for food assistance?

Tarrant Area Food Bank only requires that a Partner Agency serve people in need. Partner Agencies set their own criteria for food assistance since they know their community better than the Food Bank does. The one exception is the distribution of USDA commodities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that people receiving commodities meet certain income eligibility criteria.

How many people does the Food Bank serve in a year?

According to a regional study done in 2009 for Tarrant Area Food Bank, our network of 300 charities provides food to more than 281,000 DIFFERENT people in a year. (The study was part of the national survey commissioned by Feeding America and released as Hunger in America 2010.)

OUR FOOD AID NETWORK (PARTNER AGENCIES)

How can a charity get food from Tarrant Area Food Bank?

To receive food from Tarrant Area Food Bank, an organization must become a Partner Agency. Information on joining the network is at Our Network.

Do partner agencies have to pay for food they get from Tarrant Area Food Bank?

Not exactly. Partner Agencies pay a Shared Maintenance Fee to share in the costs of procuring and distributing food by sharing in the ongoing costs of operating Tarrant Area Food Bank as a distribution center. The Shared Maintenance Fee ranges from zero cents per pound to a maximum of 18 cents per pound for all products except fresh breads and dairy products, which are free. The maximum amount for the Shared Maintenance Fee is set by Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest).
 
The exception to this explanation is the Food Bank’s Cooperative Food Purchase Program. Partner Agencies can choose to access selected items by paying the actual bulk-rate price paid by Tarrant Area Food Bank plus a 2- to 3-cent Shared Maintenance Fee. This program supplies food products that are difficult to obtain as donations.

Do Partner Agencies pass on the Shared Maintenance Fee to food recipients?

No. Partner Agencies are required to sign a document stating that the individuals they serve will NOT be charged a fee for the food they receive in the form of cooked meals, snacks or emergency groceries.

Is it okay for faith-based food pantries that get food from Tarrant Area Food Bank to offer prayer and other religious services to people who come to the pantries?

Partner Agencies may offer religious services to food recipients, but participation in religious activities can not be required as a condition for receiving food assistance.

Does Tarrant Area Food Bank ever stop serving an agency?

Tarrant Area Food Bank always works with its partners to help them meet the Food Bank’s standards of operation. If ultimately they cannot or will not meet these standards, then the Food Bank has to end the partnership. This rarely happens.

Why should I donate food to Tarrant Area Food Bank instead of my local food pantry?

Tarrant Area Food Bank encourages you to support both of us. One of the things the Food Bank can do that your local pantry probably can’t, is to sort, inspect and re-pack huge quantities of food ranging from 10,000 pounds collected by a school to 200,000 pounds collected locally during the letter carriers’ annual Stamp Out Hunger! food drive.

Donations from individuals and groups to Tarrant Area Food Bank also contribute to a varied mix of canned and boxed food that helps all agencies provide an adequate level of nutrition to food recipients. All partner agencies have access to food donated to Tarrant Area Food Bank.

FEEDING AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS

How can my local school get a BackPacks for Kids program?

The elementary or middle school must have a high percentage of students eligible for the National School Breakfast and Lunch program of free and reduced-cost meals. The primary restriction for Tarrant Area Food Bank in establishing the program at new sites is funding. The Food Bank pays the greater cost of many of its current 26 BackPacks for Kids sites out of its operating budget. Several sites are supported by consortiums of churches and other community groups. For information, your school counselor or principal can contact our Food for Kids Manager (Sarah Centeno, 817-332-9177, ext.124; or email). 

How can an agency get a Kids Cafe?

To host a Kids Cafe, an agency must be a nonprofit, have a kitchen and be providing tutoring, mentoring, life-skills, recreational or other programs for children at scheduled times. Right now, all of the Food Bank’s Kids Cafes provide meals in the late afternoon, but a Kids Cafe could serve breakfast or lunch. For example, until the host agency closed, the Food Bank sponsored a Kids Cafe that served lunch as part of a Saturday program.

The primary restriction for Tarrant Area Food Bank in establishing a Kids Cafe at an additional site is funding. Capital One has been our primary and very generous financial sponsor of Kids Cafes, but beginning in 2008-09, they had to reduce their support. For information about the Kids Cafe program, an agency can contact our Food for Kids Coordinator (Laura Wise, 817-332-9177, ext.153; or email).

The Food Bank seems to feed children during the school year, but what about during the summer?

During the summer, the Food Bank coordinates two programs: Kids Cafes and SummerPacks for Kids. 

The Food Bank arranges for any Kids Cafe host agency that is open during the summer to receive meals for its Kids Cafe either through the local city’s Summer Feeding Program or through the Sodexo Feeding the Future program. Sodexo is the nation’s largest provider of school meals.

Beginning in 2010, the Food Bank extended its BackPacks for Kids into the summer with SummerPacks for Kids.  Sacks of kid-friendly, nonperishable food were given out on Friday afternoons to children in 15 of the City of Fort Worth's Summer Feeding Program sites.

Isn’t nutrition education part of health classes taught in school?  Why is the Food Bank doing it?

Tarrant Area Food Bank offers nutrition education programs specifically for low-income individuals and families, many of whom are receiving food assistance from our network of partner agencies. This includes adults as well as children. The Cooking Matters™ courses are taught in a kitchen and are specifically designed to teach families how to obtain sufficient nutrition on a low-income budget.

Does the Food Bank have anything to do with Food Stamps?

We have community outreach staff who educate food aid charities and their clients about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). This national nutrition program helps low-income people and temporarily unemployed individuals purchase food. For most people, the SNAP allowance only stretches through three weeks of the month, which explains why SNAP participants seek help from nonprofit hunger-relief programs.

How does the Community Kitchen fit into the Food Bank’s mission?

The Community Kitchen utlitizes surplus fresh and frozen food donated by grocery retailters to produce nutritious meals for distribution by hunger-relief charities while providing free culinary job training to unemployed and low-income men and women. After completing the kitchen/classroom training and internship, the students graduate with basic culinary skills that are needed in restaurants, catering services, hospitals, schools and other food service settings.  The goal is for graduates to be able to support themselves without the need for food aid.

VOLUNTEERS

For detailed information on volunteer opportunities for adults and children as individuals or in groups, scheduling volunteer time and related topics, please visit our Volunteer section.

How many people volunteer at Tarrant Area Food Bank?

In an average year, more than 7,000 adults, teens and younger children give about 70,000 hours of their time, effort and talent to our mission.  This does not include the volunteers who work with our partner charities.

Can I go online to sign up to volunteer?

Yes! Individuals, groups and partner agencies may view available opportunities and register to volunteer at www.tafb.org/volunteer.

Does the Food Bank offer volunteer opportunities for court-ordered community service?

Yes. Individuals with court-ordered community service, including lawyer-referred service or teen court, may volunteer in Quality Control. An Orientation prior to beginning their service hours is required. Learn more here.

Does Teen Court send kids to the Food Bank?

Teen Court recognizes donation of food and volunteer work performed at Tarrant Area Food Bank as community service.

Can high school and college students volunteer to meet degree requirements for community service?

Yes.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Are you United Way or state or county government?

No to all three of these. Tarrant Area Food Bank is a private nonprofit supported by individuals, foundations, corporations and community groups. The only government money we receive is reimbursement for handling and distributing USDA Commodities and matching funds to provide SNAP/Food Stamp Nutrition Education to low-income families. The Food Bank’s only connection to United Way is that during the annual United Way campaign, donors may elect to give to one or more charities on a select list of independent charities that includes Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Where does your financial support come from?

The majority of our financial support comes from donations made by individuals.  We also receive grants from foundations and corporations.  Additional income is provided by the Shared Maintenance Fee paid by Partner Agencies to help defray the costs of transporting, storing and distributing food.

Why should I write a check to Tarrant Area Food Bank instead of to my local food pantry?

Tarrant Area Food Bank encourages you to support both organizations. Your local food pantry probably would not distribute as much or as nutritious a mix of food if it weren’t a partner with Tarrant Area Food Bank. In turn, without Partner Agencies such as your food pantry, Tarrant Area Food Bank would not be able to distribute the million-plus pounds of food it collects each month.

What percentage of my donation goes toward feeding people?

Of the Food Bank’s total annual revenue, including the value of food handled, 97% of that revenue goes toward programs, which includes food distribution, the direct feeding programs for children (Kids Cafes and BackPacks for Kids) nutrition education and the Community Kitchen job training program.

How do we know our monetary donations are being used to feed people and not for administrative costs?

Monetary donations help support all of our operating expenses. Operating expenses include, among other items, staff salaries and benefits, warehouse equipment, trucks and fuel, freight charges, insurance, warehouse and office supplies, computer equipment and utilities (including electricity for two warehouse freezers and two warehouse coolers). Without staff, equipment, utilities and supplies, no food could be received or distributed.

What is the Food Bank’s budget?

The cash budget is approximately $7 million. By IRS rules we also count food received as revenue, which in  recent years has been valued at more than $23 million.

How many employees does Tarrant Area Food Bank have?

The Food Bank has 60 full-time positions of which two-thirds provide direct services either in the warehouse or through programs such as BackPacks for Kids, Kids Cafes, Cooking Matters™, Community Gardening and the Community Kitchen.

Does the Food Bank recycle?

Yes.  The public is invited help us raise money through recycling by contributing paper to our outdoor recycling bin, the Paper Retriever™.  This “puppy” can take newspapers, and papers and publications from your home, office and school. Please do not donate cardboard boxes to this bin. The green and yellow Paper Retriever™ is located on the east side of the Food Bank parking lot and has a round logo picturing a dog. The Food Bank is at 2600 Cullen Street, Fort Worth. For directions, see our Map.