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Questions With ... North Texas Food Bank (posted 11-18-2013)

DTC recently caught up with North Texas Food Bank CEO and President Jan Pruitt. Read what she has to say about hunger in North Texas and how Scrooge’s nephew Fred embodies the spirit of NTFB.

Tell us a little about the NTFB and DTC partnership.
This partnership came to us via a former member of our team—Julie Womack, a former DTC employee. This is the sixth year for the partnership which has always been with A Christmas Carol. Each holiday season’s performance is dedicated to NTFB. Patrons and theatre-goers are invited to support NTFB by dropping coins or dollars into a basket that is passed around at the end of each performance. Someone from the cast also comes out on stage and makes a plea to the theatre to support NTFB. Out of all the partnerships NTFB has with community groups, this one is the most touching, innovative and creative. We love Dallas Theater Center!

What kind of impact has the partnership made on those served by NTFB?
We literally could not measure the impact of these past 5 years. Why? Because in addition to the dollars that have been donated—which is $237,000 in total—the awareness is priceless. We cannot measure the impact of the awareness raised because of this effort. Each night, as theatregoers return home, in some way they have been mobilized to do something to end hunger. Many give funds that night, but even after that—they use their voice, circles of influence and more to raise awareness, and donate food and funds. It’s the ripple effect of “Tiny Tim,” in my mind... that goes on and on... .all to benefit the tens of thousands of families who are in need.

The holidays draw lots of attention to the Food Bank every year. What kind of support do you all need year round? 
Summer is the hungriest season of the year. With schools closed, the children who benefit from the weekend backpack of food, the school pantries and after-school programs, find themselves without an easy source of meals. Our Partner Agencies’ food orders spike in July and August, and their orders are greater than ever. Additionally, the 600 volunteers we need each week year-round…well, the numbers of people who sign up to volunteer shrink during the summer. So, we’re in dire need of hearts & hands, and food and funds during the summer. It would be wonderful for families, employees and faith groups, to consider coming to volunteer akin to a “summer camp!” Sign up for a day as a group. Come have fun together building your team, and help NTFB during a high-demand season. In sum, we need healthy foods donated, funds to support the sourcing and distribution of foods, and the hands to sort/box foods.

What character from A Christmas Carol most embodies the spirit of NTFB? 
Fred – Scrooge’s only living relative and his nephew. He is a gentleman, but unlike his miserly uncle, he is a kind-hearted, generous, cheerful, and optimistic man who loves Christmas. He believes that there is good to be found in everyone, even his misanthropic uncle Scrooge, whom he invites to Christmas dinner every year despite constant rejection. Fred believes that the good in Scrooge can be brought to the surface. The NTFB team passionately pursues the mission and the vision—Imagine, a world without hunger. We also believe that there is good in everyone, and everyone is equal and deserves the basic elements of life – food being the core first step. 

What do you think is the most important thing for DTC audiences to know about NTFB? 
NTFB is an authentic, highly-effective, innovative, transparent organization. We cannot solve hunger with just 153 employees. We need everyone around the “solution table.” There is enough food in America for everyone. So why are there growing numbers of people who cannot afford food for their families, themselves? Why does healthy food cost so much more, and thus unreachable for so many? We need everyone to believe and act upon this: Hunger is unacceptable. We have to do something to change that. Those who are hungry today are tomorrow’s work force. If North Texas, and our state and nation, are to remain strong, we have to have a strong and secure community and work force, a place of equity and collaboration. In sum, we need your voice, hands, food and funds. Together, we can solve hunger.

What are some of NTFB's favorite holiday traditions? 
Often, when a special visitor or gift arrives, we can be found ringing cowbells thru the offices, or beeping our fork lift horns, giving supporters a standing ovation as they enter our warehouse to help us feed those who are hungry today.


 

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