In the aftermath of what could be Texas’ costliest weather event in its history, food aid for individuals is being provided by the state government, places of worship, local nonprofits, food banks, and community-organized mutual aids.
D-SNAP and SNAP
Gov. Greg Abbott’s Major Disaster Declaration first issued on Feb. 12 will release funds for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). D-SNAP provides short-term food assistance to families, and is designed to help after disasters when people return home and when access to electricity and grocery stores has been restored.
Susie Marshall, who works to strengthen regional food systems as the executive director of GROW North Texas, encourages first-time D-SNAP applicants to set up an account with Your Texas Benefits and apply now. In addition to the website, applicants can download the Your Texas Benefits app, or call 2-1-1 and select Option 2 after choosing your language preference.
For those currently receiving SNAP benefits, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced Friday that recipients can apply for replacement benefits for food lost or destroyed due to winter weather by calling 2-1-1. SNAP recipients will additionally receive a 15 percent increase to their benefit amount through June. Only U.S. citizens and “certain lawfully-present non-citizens” may receive SNAP benefits.
Nonprofits & Places of Worship
Last Thursday, Dallas-based nonprofit Harvest Project Food Rescue began partnering with Warren United Methodist Church and Masjid Al-Islam’s Beacon of Light program to turn their normally distributed produce boxes into hot meals.
Founder Danaë Gutiérrez says Beacon of Light donated cooking utensils, and Warren UMC hosted with heaters and tents as it became a warming center and point of operations that gave out 500 cooked meals from both places of worship that day.
On Friday, Harvest Project Food Rescue also converted a school bus into a warming station that drove to homeless encampments in South Dallas and distributed hot meals. They also gave out coats, blankets, gloves, and hygiene packages donated by Beacon of Light. “We went to the places we knew no one was going to,” Gutiérrez says.
Gutiérrez says she is currently determining whether the best way to serve the community is through fresh produce or hot meals, but she plans to start offering produce delivery to families who can’t leave their homes beginning Feb. 22.
She’s been too busy working to notice that Bravo’s Top Chef and Taste the Nation star Padma Lakshmi listed Harvest Project Food Rescue in a suggested list of organizations to make donations to, but she is aware of an “influx of donations.”
“We’ve received donations form Ohio, California, New York, all over. We are seeing the light in this tragedy coming from our communities. We need to focus on the fact that we’re together right now,” she says.
Monetary donations are needed to purchase water, generators, heaters, to-go containers, gas and more produce for distribution.
In Fort Worth, Funky Town Fridge founder Kendra Richardson describes mutual aids like hers as an “abolition and restorative justice” model to help communities in need. Funky Town Fridge aims to serve “Black, brown and vulnerable” communities with what will soon be four community refrigerators stationed throughout the city of Fort Worth, a place she says is often forgotten in rescue operations.
In addition to keeping the community refrigerators stocked with food, Richardson and other volunteers have been making wellness check calls to their community and delivering water and groceries to those who request it.
Richardson, who holds a separate full-time job, reports feeding 600 people on Friday, and is requesting help from volunteers to make phone calls, assemble grocery bags and distribute them.
Richardson says of the storm aftermath, “I’ve never seen anything like this. This has been a traumatic experience for the entire state, and I just want to uplift my city.”
In Dallas, a similar program called The People’s Fridge is also accepting donations.
Food banks and mobile pantries
North Texas Food Bank: For a list of upcoming Mobile Pantry distributions, visit ntfb.org/mobile-pantry.
Minnie’s Food Pantry: This Plano-based food pantry is also offering emergency food distribution points. Visit minniesfoodpantry.org/boots-on-the-ground/ for a list of upcoming events.
Tarrant Area Food Bank: TAFB is hosting multiple Mobile Markets around the county. Visit tafb.org/find-food for upcoming drop-off points.
Catholic Charities of Dallas: The CCD Mobile Community Pantry has drop-off points scheduled each day this week. Visit ccdallas.org/services/food-services/#mobile for a list.