Food News

Jan Pruitt, CEO of the NTFB, on The Greatest Misconceptions of the NTFB, 49 Million Meals

In the 16 years Jan Pruitt has been the CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, food distribution has grown 300% and the "ReThink Hunger" program has succeeded in providing more nutritious meals to food-insecure families across North Texas. Recently I spoke with Pruitt about the food bank's $7 million goal, leadership and what it takes to provide 130,000 nutritious meals a day.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about people who need help putting food on the table? That they're takers. That they're just coming and taking help wherever they can get it. But the truth is that the majority of people that go to a food pantry have at least one job and in many cases more than one job.

Another growing segment that we see are senior citizens on a fixed income.

Also, people think we give most of our food to the homeless - only about nine percent of our food goes to the homeless population. 91 percent goes to families and seniors.

Do needs change during the holidays for hunger-insecure families? I think what's interesting is that most people think of hunger during the holidays because it's a season of giving. But, our highest need time is during the summer months when kids are out of school.

During the holiday days what agencies are trying to do is provide that special meal, like an actual holiday meal. The NTFB purchases 8 tractor-trailer loads of turkeys. We also do special turkey drives, like the kids in Coppell and Highland Park both did turkey drives. So, it's not that the numbers go up so much, it's that the quality of the food changes.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.