SMU Law Ponies Up at North Texas Food Bank
Alumni & students help families in crisis
On Saturday January 30, 2021, SMU Dedman School of Law alumni and students volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank.
SMU Law has been looking for a way to have an in-person event where alumni and students can safely connect while giving back to the community during this pandemic. Our alum, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot (LLM ’92), is the CEO of Feeding America, which oversees 200 food banks across the country, including the North Texas Food Bank. After seeing her on the national news multiple times in 2020 talking about the hunger crisis in our country, she inspired the idea for members of the law school community to volunteer at a food bank.
There is unprecedented hunger and food insecurity related to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Because of this, our goal was to help those in need in North Texas and raise public consciousness around food insecurity during a time when 40 percent of the people who have relied on food banks the past year have never done so before. As an added benefit, our students and alumni had an opportunity to safely volunteer and connect in person.
The SMU Law group was divided into two volunteer groups. One group packed 6,720 pounds of food for the Food 4 Kids program, which will provide 5,600 meals to children in need in North Texas. According to the NTFB, “Elementary and middle school children experiencing food insecurity, often face hunger at home when meals are not available during the weekends. Working with educators to identify chronically hungry kids, the Food 4 Kids program provides backpacks full of nutritious, nonperishable, kid-friendly food items to take home each Friday afternoon during the school year. The program operates in roughly 300 schools, serving up to 11,000 chronically hungry children each week.”
The second volunteer group worked in the “cold sort line” to sort fresh produce, dairy and meat. This cold food storage helps make sure recipients receive better quality, nutritious food for those in need during this pandemic. The alumni and students who worked the cold sort line braved cold temperatures on the production line to make sure North Texas residents have access to healthier food during the COVID-19 crisis.
Another group of volunteers from SMU Law plans to volunteer again next Saturday February 6, 2021.
The NTFB has implemented safety guidelines as recommended by the CDC, WHO, their national partner, Feeding America, and local entities including the Dallas County Health & Human Services.