At RecognizeGood, it has and always will be our mission to share the GOOD in our community. In a time where our news feeds are refreshed more frequently than ever, we wanted to dig deeper and share the stories of our friends that are still out there on the front lines – the nonprofit staff and volunteers who don’t get weekends or holidays off, who cannot work from home and who still fearlessly take care of others.
HopeAustin provides weekend meals for students facing food insecurity. Each week, they deliver essential food to over 1,600 students at 61 different schools across Central Texas. This program gives children access to the nutrients they need so they can grow, develop, and focus on learning. With schools closed, we had no doubt that our friends at HopeAustin were figuring out how to continue their mission.
No longer able to use volunteers, the board has stepped up to create the thousands of meal kits needed weekly. After checking her email to coordinate with school administrators and to process the increased requests of students in need, Executive Director and Founder Monica Van Waaden began to get deliveries ready.
“After each delivery run, we return to our unit to carefully sanitize each bin and bag we retrieved from the previous week’s delivery,” Monica says. “Since we are not using volunteers at this time, we then work a couple of hours to create the thousands of meal kits that go out each week.”
Another essential task during this time is keeping up with fundraising. With more students needing access to meals, HopeAustin is reliant on donations and grants – Monica’s team has been working hard to make sure they can sustain the growing need for meal kits.
On adapting to this process, Monica only left us with positive things to say. “My greatest takeaway from all this is never take things for granted, always be flexible and always try to leave each person you speak / connect with, with a smile on their face.”
The best way to help HopeAustin until they can accept volunteers again is to share their story and raise awareness of the problem of childhood food insecurity in Central Texas. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on their hard work, or make a donation if you are able to.