The Tarrant Area Food Bank, founded in 1982 by Pat Mohler, is celebrating 40 years of service in 2022.

“We have humble beginnings and we are now 120 full-time employees with a $150 million budget. We have about 20,000 volunteers that come through that make up about 60,000 hours,” said Michael Polydoroff, the director of marketing and communications at Tarrant Area Food Bank.

The food bank serves a million meals a week and, with its $150 million budget, aims to eliminate food insecurity through food pantries, donation drives, community gardens and its R.E.D. Bus, or “Resources and Education Delivered” bus, which provides assistance to communities with high food insecurity.

In North Texas, the two major food banks — North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank — serve food to 600,000 people who are food insecure.

“If we combined the amount of food we’re putting out into the community, we ranked No. 3 in the nation only behind Los Angeles and New York,” said Julie Butner, the CEO of the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Julie Butner, the CEO of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, talks to guests on Sept. 21 at the Tarrant Area Food Bank center, 2600 Cullen St. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

New programs and partnerships are in the works for the food bank.

Fort Worx, the Tarrant Area Food Bank’s cooking program, launched in 2021. The 16-week program provides training and “on-the-job learning in the fundamentals of food preparation.”

After completion of the program, apprentices are “equipped for employment in fast-casual restaurants, food manufacturing, and institutional foodservice operations, such as hospitals, hotels, and corporate cafeterias,” according to the program website.

“We are looking to educate,” Polydoroff said. “This is sort of a 360-way that we can look at people and teach them how to fish and not just give them the fish.”

The food bank is now focused on figuring out what state policies they can change, what environmental changes and other factors they can change to end hunger, Butner said.

District 6 Councilmember and Vice-President of Advocacy at Tarrant Area Food Bank Jared Williams talks to guests on Sept. 21 at the Tarrant Area Food Bank center, 2600 Cullen St. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

“For folks that are faced with crises, we want to feed you right away, but then we want to make sure that you can go on and live a better life,” Butner said. “What ending hunger solutions should we be involved in, and we’ve got some pretty solid ones now, but more to come in the future.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.