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The Houston Food Bank Case Study

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Introduction: The Houston Food Bank

Company History

The donation of store-front property in North Houston led to the Houston Food Bank opening their doors in March of 1982. Distributing over one million pounds of food the first year it was quickly realized that the organization needed to focus on long-term solutions to deal with hunger in the community. Keeping this in mind, the Houston Food Bank, managing over three million pounds of food, became the largest food bank in Texas by 1984.

In the next several years activity was customized to meet the Houston community’s specific needs. Physical growth was important if they were going to maintain a strong presence in the area. Another very important donation in 1988 catapulted the move to the first permanent location, a 73,000 square foot warehouse, near Cavalcade on US Highway 59.

The massive number of food distribution rose quickly requiring many thousands of volunteer hours. A record twenty million pounds of food was given out in 1996. By being the main source for food and hunger relief charities in 18 Southeast Texas counties, the Houston Food Bank distributed 53 million nutritious meals each year feeding a whopping 137,000 people a week! (About Us: Houston Food Bank, 2013) 

“One in six Americans today is unsure where their next meal will come from, and how they will feed their children tomorrow.” (Connolly, Looking for Solutions to Food Insecurity, 2012) The USDA has defined food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food”. (Food Security and Food Access, 2013) They have also stated that 16.7 million children under the age of 18 do not have access to sufficient amounts of food that are health and nutritious. There were five states in 2009 with

the highest rate of food insecure children less than the age of 18 and Texas was among them. (Feeding America: Impact of Hunger)

In 2010 it was reported that due to family incomes being hit hard by the economic recession, there was an 85 percent increase of children fed by local Houston food pantries since 2006. (Lee, Alarming' hunger statistics cited for Houston area, 2012) These are staggering numbers.

Problem Statement

One in every five children is considered medically obese and one in every four lives in a household without enough food to eat, resulting in food insecurities. Healthy foods, such as fresh produce, are expensive to supply to those who are in need. On average nutritiously dense food costs on average $1.76 per 1,000 calories, while nutritiously rich foods average $18.16 per 1,000 calories. That is why global hunger and obesity are not seen as individual problems but problems married together.

Houston Food Bank Research

Organizational Mission

 “Leading the fight against hunger” is the mission of the Houston Food Bank. The non-profit organization was founded in 1982 and is a certified member of the nation’s food bank network, Feeding America. The overall purpose of the food bank is to gather support from donors in order to provide ample food to Houston and the surrounding communities. (About Us: Houston Food Bank, 2013)

The food bank has grown significantly over the years and is now considered the main link between a network of more than 400 large and small pantries. As a result, the organization has developed numerous campaigns to help alleviate food insecurity. By 2018, the Houston

Food Bank hopes to grow an annual distribution of 120 million pounds of food and are determined a large amount of the food will be nutritious. (About Us: Houston Food Bank, 2013)

Organizational Reputation

 The Houston Food Bank is guided by a Board of Directors. The 27 members of the board come from an array of fields and backgrounds. For example, Michael Cordua, owner of Cordua Restaurants, Jamey Rootes from the Houston Texans, and Kim Ruth from Bank of America are all members of the 2012-2013 board. These men and women dedicate their “time, wisdom and financial resources” to the Houston Food Bank.  The goals of the Houston Food Bank are continually achieved because of the continuous support they receive from these influential individuals. (Board: Houston Food Bank, 2013)

It can be said that the Houston Food Banks reputation is one of high merit. According to the Better Business Bureau report issued in January 2012, the Houston Food Bank met all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability and no complaints about the organization had been reported in the past 36 months. (Better Business Bureau, 2013) The organization has worked hard to maintain the highest ethical standards when conducting business and high encourages all employees and volunteers to follow these same standards. (About Us: Houston Food Bank, 2013) Undoubtedly, the Houston Food Bank has gained the confidence of their volunteers, employees and donors. Currently, the food bank has outstanding reputation within the Houston community and shows no signs of faltering.

Organizational Financial Information

 As a non-profit organization the contributions the Houston Food Banks receives are essential to the whole operation. The organization has been able to make efficient use of its resources and function at the lowest possible cost. This is confidently stated on the food banks website “Because we receive strong support from donors in the community and the food industry, the Food Bank keeps administrative costs low-less than 5 cents on the dollar.” (Financial Info:Houston Food Bank, 2013)

According to the organizations website in 2011, the food bank launched a “capital campaign” for a new facility and surpassed their $55M goal.  A “slice” of their revenue came from the $2.1M sale of their old building. The Houston Food Bank’s annual revenue included items like donations, sales, and government contracts which totaled $147,405,291.  Every year the Houston Food Bank’s finances are analyzed by members of the Board and select staff. Consequently, the organization has been able to maximize the donations of food, volunteer time and money because of the careful planning and management of their financial resources. (Annual Report: Houston Food Bank, 2013)

For example, the success of the capital campaign allowed the Houston Food Bank to designate $3M for grants to partner agencies. In 2011, the food bank expenses totaled $131,597,272. After food distribution programs, management, and fundraising costs the 2011 net income for the Houston Food Bank totaled $72,937,988. (Annual Report: Houston Food Bank, 2013) The amazing net income has without doubt allowed the organization to better serve the Houston area as well as other food bank networks.

Organizational Relationship with Public Relations Department



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