Q&A with NTFB: Faith Restored in Humankind, Plus a New Delivery Partnership with Amazon

The food bank's prepackaged boxes ready for home delivery
The food bank's prepackaged boxes ready for home delivery courtesy of Amazon
The North Texas Food Bank recently began a collaboration with Amazon to deliver groceries directly to the doorsteps of families facing food insecurity.

Two food bank partners, Crossroads Community Service and Sharing Life Community Outreach, provide and prepare shelf-stable groceries and prepackage the foods in boxes. Amazon then donates the delivery services using its network of Amazon Flex drivers to make contactless, doorstep deliveries.

Through early July, together they delivered more than 7,000 pounds of food serving more than 6,000 meals to communities in the greater Dallas region.

“Our community is facing food insecurity at a level that the food bank has never seen,” said Trisha Cunningham, the food bank's president and CEO. “We are very grateful for Amazon’s partnership, as it allows us to deliver food directly to local families and seniors who are unable to travel to pick up food that they need to survive. This new, innovative delivery program helps us meet the needs of our fellow North Texans, during a period where our organization is stepping up to serve more individuals than ever before.”

click to enlarge An Amazon Flex delivery driver - COURTESY OF AMAZON
An Amazon Flex delivery driver
courtesy of Amazon
Like many others, Cunningham is adapting to a vastly changing landscape. In 2019, the NTFB provided more than 70 million meals in the North Texas area, a mission that came with its own sets of challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has launched the challenges of assisting food-insecure families into a new realm. 

We asked Cunningham four questions as the organization moves forward to help others in 2020. 

What have the past three months taught you?

"Our NTFB team can make the impossible possible; they are resilient and quickly flipped our business operations to be able to safely distribute to those in need. Our food distribution doubled because of their 'whatever it takes' attitude, and we have seen leaders rise to meet new challenges that may not have had the opportunity in normal circumstances. Also, no one wants people to go hungry — from individuals to corporations, to elected officials, to community partners — they all wanted to do what they could to help their fellow neighbors at a time when they need it most. 

What's the best way people can help solve hunger in North Texas?

"Funds overwhelmingly make the biggest difference, as NTFB is a true value at $1 equals three meals. It allows us the flexibility to purchase the quantity and mix of nutritious items needed for safe distribution and operations."

(Contributions can be made online.)

click to enlarge Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank - NORTH TEXAS FOOD BANK
Trisha Cunningham, president and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank
North Texas Food Bank
In an effort to find good amidst all the bad news lately, from unemployment to the pandemic, can you share with us one bright spot from your position at the NTFB?  

"My faith has certainly been restored in humankind. The brightest spot has been the community, as their response and support have been unparalleled. We have had so many step up using their resources to help others: senior citizens donating their stimulus checks; businesses donating proceeds of mask-making, photography or other goods; children raising funds by selling their toys or chalk art; food recipients donating blood and so many more examples."

Is there anything else you would like people to know? 

"First of all, we could not make a dent in hunger without our steadfast 250+ nonprofit agencies with food pantries and other feeding programs in our 13-county feeding network. While about 80% of their food comes from NTFB, they provide additional services that help those in need get back on their feet. By working with two of our larger partners, Sharing Life Community Outreach and Crossroads Community Services, Amazon helps ensure those who are homebound are able to access healthy food. This is the latest innovation of our partnership that has also included food and funds for several years. That support is invaluable, especially during these times. We’ve also had donations of warehouse space, equipment and even lunches as our staff works hard to meet the unprecedented needs. This generosity keeps us fueled — literally."
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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.