Food News

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

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Can you explain a little bit about the ReThink Hunger program? ReThink Hunger has three specific pillars: healthier, smarter and stronger. The primary focus of the North Texas Food Bank is to provide more nutritious food to people that are food insecure because that's a very vulnerable part of our population. We feel like hunger is only a symptom of a bigger problem, which is poverty.

So, families that are struggling with money sometimes have to choose between paying their electric bill over their food bill. Those limited calories have a lot of impacts on our community, including an educational impact. Ask any teacher.

There's also a health aspect. Young children that are malnourished don't grow as tall and have more health problems later in their lives.

There's been some real interesting research done in the hunger/obesity link. Children that lack nourishment in utero have more tendencies to be obese later in life.

How do you find a balance between quantity and quality of nutrition? We are always looking at the quality of our food - do we have the most nutritious food we can provide? Then, we also look at where we provide that food. We're going directly to schools and health clinics with pallets of fresh produce because we feel we can get the most bang for our buck by getting the food directly to the families.

Do you have any New Year's resolutions for the NTFB? Our biggest single goal is 49 million nutritious meals by June of 2013. Last year our goal was to hit 42 million nutritious meals and we actually hit 47 million. Now, I'm telling you that when I say 49 million "nutritious" meals, we don't count pounds that aren't nutritious. So, if we get a pallet of, say, soda pop, we still handle and distribute it, but it doesn't go towards our goal.

When you say 49 million meals, how much food is that? Think about this, it takes 1.24 pounds to make a meal. So, we're handling approximately 60 million pounds of food to make those meals.

How much money do you have to raise to hit that goal? We have to hit every fundraising goal we have for November and December, which is $7 million in order to provide those 49 million meals by June. Right now we're $1.4 million behind. When we don't hit our goals that means fewer meals on the streets.

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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.