This course will introduce us to remarkable people who work to end hunger in Houston. We will tour their facilities and hear their stories.
The numbers relating to food insecurity are staggering: over 749,000 people in Harris County went hungry in 2014. In the Houston Independent School District, 76 percent of students get free or reduced-cost lunches. In the midst of the wealth, energy, diversity, and philanthropy of our city, there are nevertheless people who live with hunger.
September 27: ENDING HUNGER. Rachel Kimbro, professor of sociology and fellow of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, will provide an overview. We will meet three leaders in the effort to end hunger in Houston:
Barbara Bronstein is the founder and president of Second Servings of Houston, a prepared-food rescue organization that oversees the transfer of food from regulated businesses such as hotels, arenas, and cafeterias to non-profit meal providers, thereby redirecting perfectly edible food away from landfills and toward people who need it. While we enjoy a “rescued lunch” provided by Second Servings, Ms. Bronstein will discuss the services, mission, and inspiration behind her organization.
Lisa Helfman is the founder and board chair of Brighter Bites, which distributes fresh produce to schools and community centers. Every week each participating family takes home two grocery bags of food, which provide 50 to 60 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables—and the recipes and tips needed to turn the produce into nutritious meals and snacks. Ms. Helfman will describe her group’s success in Houston and expansion to other cities.
Mike Puccio is the chief operating officer of the Beacon, our host and the co-sponsor of this session. The Beacon provides essential services—medical, legal, housing, social—and meals, showers, and laundry to the homeless who seek to return to stable housing. Mr. Puccio will lead a tour of the Beacon Day Center.
October 4: AT THE GROCERY STORE. Winell Herron, vice president for public affairs, diversity, and environmental affairs at H-E-B, will take us behind the scenes at one of the company’s largest Houston stores. We will see what happens to the unsold excess food and learn about H-E-B’s recycling and meal programs. Lunch will be available.
October 11: AT THE FOOD BANK. Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank, will be our guide. He will join us for lunch and discussion of food insecurity in the 18 counties served by the food bank, which distributed 79 million nutritious meals last year and was named Food Bank of the Year in 2015.