Members of the Air National Guard assist with the GRACE Grocery Giveaway yesterday at the Community Outreach Center in Grapevine.

[NOTE: For the first time ever, a special Memorial Day GRACE Grocery Giveaway took place yesterday, Thursday, May 21, at the Community Outreach Center on Mustang Drive in Grapevine. This summer’s GRACE Grocery Giveaway will follow a rotating schedule at Feed Our Kids sites beginning Thursday, June 4.]

We’ve all said it—most likely in the last few days. We found ourselves “starving to death”. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. For most of us hunger is a passing sensation—just something we feel briefly before sitting down to a meal.

Hunger—true hunger—seems to exist only in some distant place, in front of tarpaper shacks or under a bridge in a city. Certainly not in our neighborhood.

GRACE Chief Program Officer Stacy Pacholick knows better. “Hunger is everywhere,” said Stacy. “You’ll find it in our affluent neighborhoods, gated communities, condominiums. Wherever there are people, there will be hunger.”

The statistics are alarming: nearly 20% of the people in Tarrant County—1 in 5—experience food insecurity, in which a family lacks access to enough food for all household members to enjoy an active and healthy life.

One-quarter of all counties in the United States with 100,000 or more food insecure children are in Texas. Texas ranks number 2—second only to Mississippi—in the nation for total number of food insecure people.

Locally, 24% of the children attending Grapevine-Colleyville ISD schools are on the “free and reduced” lunch program.

“Food becomes negotiable,” Stacy said. “That’s the reality of many families living in our cities and neighborhoods. They are forced to decide between food and other necessities like rent, utilities, transportation, diapers, and daycare.”

In some cases, lack of food is not entirely related to the lack of financial means. In areas of premium property values, the development of a grocery store is a low-return investment.

Stacy identified three “food desserts” in the region—large areas where access to grocers, fresh produce, dairy products, and other un-processed foods is limited.

Food is one of the pillars of GRACE wrap-around continuum of care: Food, Shelter, Clothing, Medical Care, and Emergency Services.

“GRACE steps in to bridge the gap of needs in various ways,” said Stacy

Feed Our Kids provides nutritious meals during the summer months to hundreds of children who receive free or reduced lunch from the school cafeteria. Support from the community allows us to provide over 32,000 meals each summer.

GRACE Grocery Giveaway was established in 2015 to bring needed food supplies directly into at-risk neighborhoods.

“Our mobile food pantry travels to those same areas served by Feed Our Kids,” Stacy said. GRACE Grocery Giveaway delivers fresh produce, dairy, meats, breads, and other food and supplies directly to the families in need.

“Last year we were able to give over 3,000 bags filled with groceries to hungry families,” she said.

Feed Our Kids and GRACE Grocery Giveaway are intentionally very easy for families to access.

“If someone comes to GRACE and tells us they are hungry, we will find them something to eat,” said Stacy. “We are there for families, providing meals to their children and offering stability during an unstable time.”

For more information on the ways GRACE combats hunger in our communities, please contact Stacy Pacholick, at 817-305-4636.