Q&A: Hays County Food Bank

{Editor’s Note: The following is an email interview with the Hays County Food Bank Communications Coordinator Mallory Raschke who spoke for herself and the food bank’s executive director.}

What is it like working at the Hays County Food Bank?

The food bank is a very busy place. Every morning, our two vans load up with volunteers and head to HEBs in San Marcos, Kyle, and Buda to collect the donated food. Then food gets weighed, sorted, put up, or packed up for distribution or for our partner agencies. Every week we hold six public distributions at various places throughout the county, as well as provide food for various partner agencies. It is very fulfilling work feeding the hungry in Hays County. Last year, we served over 70,000 individuals who needed us.

What is the most needed item that families/individuals need?

We always try to provide fresh foods to our clients, and we work with gardeners and farmers in order to get fresh produce. We can always use more, however. If you have a garden, donate a small percentage when you harvest, or when you’re at a farmer’s market, buy a little extra to give. We envision a Hays County in which everyone has easy access to sufficient, nutritious food. If you would like to donate nonperishable food items, we look for those high in protein and with pop tops (Tuna, salmon, ravioli, etc.).

What kind of impact do you think the Hays County Food Bank makes on the San Marcos community?

I believe that without the Hays County Food Bank, the community would not be able to efficiently feed those who need it so well. We work with and provide food for so many agencies that help get food out like Southside Community Center, Hays Caldwell Women’s Shelter, Buda United Methodist Church, Wimberley Crisis Bread Basket, and many others.

What does the Hays County Food Bank offer to the community that they can’t get anywhere else?

The Hays County Food Bank offers a way to help more people. Since we do have over 40 partner agencies, we ensure that food goes to all parts of the county. Food doesn’t just stay in San Marcos, it goes to Kyle, Buda, Wimberley, Martindale, and even Dripping Springs. We have the means to help more people, than if we just operated in one place. This is why we rely on all of our community to help us fulfill our mission in feeding hungry people in Hays County.

Why do you think the percent of food insecurity in San Marcos is so high?

San Marcos is the fastest growing city with a population of 50,000+. I believe this is one of the reasons why there are so many food insecure in the area. If more people move into one area, but the resources stay the same, there is just less to go around. More and more businesses are opening up to counteract this huge population surge, but it appears that it’s just not at the same rate as the population growth. According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2013, San Marcos has 37.3% of people living below poverty level. Texas is at 17.6%.

What can we (as a community) do to combat food insecurity?

The Hays County Food Bank relies on community support in order to feed the hungry in Hays County. We need the community to hold fund and food drives throughout the year, and not just during the holiday season. We provide food for those who need it no matter what time of the year it is. We believe that nobody should go hungry.

What would you say leads to food insecurity from what you have experienced/seen?

Poverty, loss of job, rise in cost of living, dramatic change to family such as people moving in or new children and mouths to feed, or even a natural disaster such as the recent flooding can lead to food insecurity. We are here when the people of Hays County need us. If you’re forced to choose between paying your electricity bill and buying groceries for your family, please utilize your local food bank.

What is your favorite part about working there?

My favorite part about working with the Hays County Food Bank, is knowing that what we are doing is helping people who truly need it. I’ve always wanted to help people, and since there are over 25,000 food insecure individuals in the county, this is a great place to help a lot of people.

Least favorite part?

My least favorite part is how small our warehouse is. We feed a multitude of food insecure families in Hays County, and our warehouse is less than 1,500 sq.ft. We rely on our community for food donations, and every November through January we fill to capacity because of all the food drives held at that time. Also, because of the recent flooding, our community and beyond have been donating much food. We have received over 47 tons of food in a very short time frame, and we had to rent 3 portable storage units to place it all. Donated food goes everywhere. We are so grateful for the community’s giving hearts; we just wish we had a bigger place in order to put all the wonderful donations.

Is there anything that you would like the community to know about the Hays County Food Bank?

The Hays County Food Bank is always in need of funds, food, and volunteers. We are actually about to kick off our summer campaign, Lend A Hand, where our goal is to raise at least $30,000. All funds raised assist the Hays County Food Bank in meeting the long term needs of the recent flood survivors as well as our ongoing food distribution needs and increased operational costs.

You can give a monetary donation at our office, located at 220 Herndon Street in San Marcos, Texas, or you can give online at www.haysfoodbank.org. Our wish list is also on Amazon. You just need to search for the Hays County Food Bank in order to donate food or supplies. They will be delivered right to our office. You can also donate in person at our office. Please visit our website to see our food wish list.

Volunteers are needed for our office, warehouse, distribution, and pick-ups. We have shifts Monday-Friday from 8:00 am-12:00 pm, 10:00 am-2:00 pm, and 12:00 pm-4:00 pm. We also have shifts on Saturday and Sunday from 7:45 am-11:30 am. Interested parties should contact our Volunteer Services Coordinator, Jim Wagner, at jwagner@haysfoodbank.org or at (512) 392-8300 x222 to schedule orientation and volunteer days.

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