The most basic need a person has is food. It’s the very first rung on our Ladder of Self-Sufficiency. Unfortunately, food insecurity is rampant in Denton County. Food insecurity is defined as having limited or inadequate access to food.
125,432 people qualify as food insecure in Denton County alone. That’s 15% of our county’s population without proper access to food.
This issue needs to be tackled, but not all ways of tackling it are equal. Oftentimes, more than one thing contributes to someone being food insecure. To tackle a big problem, a big solution is needed.
Traditional food pantries/food centers typically pre-bag or box food products and hand them out as they are.
People line up, receive what they are given and leave. Think of the old bread lines from the Great Depression.
There are a few problems with this way of distributing food.
It hurts the dignity of the person receiving the food. If someone is only allowed to receive what they are given, then they are at the mercy of the distributor and will likely waste some of the food.
Preferences, allergies and special dietary requirements are not taken into account. It’s as simple as someone not enjoying certain types of foods or not knowing how to properly cook them. As it goes, “beggars can’t be choosers.” But what if they can choose? What if empowering them to choose food they can eat and enjoy gives them the dignity to believe that their current circumstances don’t have to be forever?
The traditional distribution model actually requires more work from the volunteers. Volunteers have to give more time to pre-bagging the food to distribute. This can slow down the productivity of the food center and possibly prevent people from receiving their food.
There must be a better way to feed the hungry. A way that is more efficient and more dignifying.
Thankfully, there is. It’s the model that the Denton Community Food Center will be using once they move into their new 10,500 sq/ft food center at the Serve Denton Center later this year.
It’s called: Client Choice.
“125,432 people qualify as food insecure in Denton County alone. That’s 15% of our county’s population without proper access to food.”
Client Choice allows the clients of the food center to choose the food they want and will use.
No choices made for them
No denial of dignity
It puts the power back into the hands of the people who need assistance.
Instead of the bread lines from the Great Depression, think of a service that a normal grocery store provides like Kroger PickUp or Walmart PickUp. Clients/Shoppers get a sheet that lists the available items for them to choose.
They select the items they would like or will use for themselves. Then the volunteers can package up those choices for clients to take home. There will finally be dignity in the food assistance process.
Denton Community Food Center expects to serve around 9,000 people in its first year of operation. We can’t wait for them to move in and start this new model.
It will revolutionize the way the hungry are fed in Northern Denton County.
How It All Works Together
Remember that oftentimes there are many contributing factors to someone being food insecure in the first place. It might be having to choose between food and medication, losing an income due to unemployment, mental health struggles, or large bills that need to be paid. This is why we are excited for Denton Community Food Center to be a part of the Serve Denton Center.
The food center will be in the same location as over a dozen other nonprofits that can help someone climb the Ladder of Self-Sufficiency.
Someone who comes to receive food can also receive counseling, help with bills, parenting classes, medical care, and more without having to drive all over town.
It’s all in one place.
It’s easy to imagine a mom who needs to take care of her kids coming to the Serve Denton Center for an evening. While she’s here, she might attend a counseling session with Youth & Family Counseling, pick up a prescription at a generic price from Health Services of North Texas, get help with an electric bill from Community Services Inc., and leave with food for the week from Denton Community Food Center. And because she’s a client of Serve Denton’s partners, her kids are graciously provided with free memberships to the Explorium Denton Children’s Museum.
That is what we are building here on the Loop in Denton. We want to be a one-stop shop for humanity where everyone can get all the help they need in one place. Similar to a mall. You can visit one location and receive help from multiple agencies.
No matter the need, you can find help here. Denton Community Food Center is going to provide an integral service that advances us closer to that dream.
How to Help
If you want to help Denton Community Food Center end food insecurity in Denton, there are two things you can do immediately to make a difference.
Help the food center stay stocked on donations. They can always use your food donations. Maybe consider committing to bringing one small load of nonperishable food items to the food center every month. You can simply drop them off at the front desk of the Serve Denton Center.
You can also financially support the food center. Did you know? They are able to take a $10 donation and spend it at the Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) where they get $60-$70 worth of retail value food. That means they are able to multiply 1 dollar 6 to 7 times ($1 = $6-$7).
DCFC estimates they will serve 9,000 people in their first year of operation. That means they need more volunteers to serve these people. If you would like to help out in any way at the food center, email Ian Harber at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.