Burnet County leaders create Hunger Alliance to fill a need

JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

MARBLE FALLS — A presentation calling for the end to hunger by Jeremy Everett, the executive director of the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University, is having a profound effect on leaders across Burnet County.

Sitting in the audience for Everett’s seminar was Pam Rodgers, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a social work student at Baylor.

After the program, she contacted Madeleine Manigold, chairwoman of the church’s ministry outreach committee, and passed on the challenge.

The result is the Burnet County Hunger Alliance.

“In 2016 Burnet County, Texas, it’s unacceptable that somebody is hungry,” alliance facilitator Chad Nelson said. “It shouldn’t happen. Taking care of our neighbors is the right thing to do.”

The group’s first meeting was in July and featured a large cross-section of city, county, and educational leaders; church dignitaries; food bank and nonprofit directors; and interested residents — all of whom have the same goal: ending hunger.

Nelson and Manigold said the group noted that several organizations are already serving free hot meals to those in need, while food pantries such as The Helping Center in Marble Falls and LACare in Burnet  and several area churches provide groceries for those who need them.

“Some aren’t served, and some have difficulty being served,” Manigold said. “We want to build on what we have and take the next step.”

School-age children whose families financially qualify are fed free or reduced breakfast and lunch, and some receive a backpack filled with food on Friday afternoons for weekend meals. Many of those same children make their way to the Boys and Girls Club of the Highland Lakes after school, where they receive a meal. Club staff members say the reason is because it will be the last meal most of those students eat until they return to school the next day.

And while the alliance is grateful for those services, members noted that children are still hungry during holidays.

“It’s very devastating for educational development and health,” Manigold said. “That’s what we’re trying to do … focus attention. I believe we’ll make major strides.”

H-E-B of Marble Falls has reached out to Sam Pearce, director of The Helping Center, to retrieve items that recently expired according to the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations but are still good enough to eat to fill the pantry’s shelves.

One goal the group has is to provide a free healthy meal option in the county on different days and times to guarantee one group isn’t doubling up on another.

It also wants to ensure food pantries are open on different days of the week.

“We want to make sure people have access to those things,” Nelson said. “The discussion is to find gaps in every community. You never know all the opportunities to provide meals. One of the major objectives is to find gaps and then provide information to people who need the services.”

The alliance is creating a calendar that lists those services and when they’re available, Nelson said.

Residents have a number of ways they can get involved, Manigold said.

First: Recognize there are people living here who are hungry and resolve to join in the effort by volunteering at:

• Meals on Wheels by contacting site leader Jamie McAfee at (512) 715-9717;

• Mission Marble Falls at St. Frederick’s Baptist Church, 301 Ave. N in Marble Falls, which serves hot meals each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday;

• or The Helping Center, 1315 Broadway in Marble Falls, or LACare, 507 W. Buchanan Drive in Burnet.

And residents asked to contact the alliance to let them know of others who are in need of food. There are no pre-qualifications, Nelson said.

“We love them enough to find them,” he said.

Email Trinity Episcopal at office@trinitymarblefalls.org for more information.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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