North Texas Food Bank raises $40M toward $55M Stop Hunger, Build Hope goal

Preston Hollow residents John and Pam Beckert are offended by the numbers.

One in four area children live in food insecure homes, according to the North Texas Food Bank. One in six senior adults do, too.

“Hunger in our community is unacceptable,” said John Beckert, who with his wife has supported NTFB for more than 30 years.

The Beckerts, Perots, Jains and other Dallas families are looking to do more to reduce those numbers and are inviting other North Texans a $55 million Stop Hunger Build Hope capital campaign.

The Beckerts are co-chairing the campaign, now in its public phase. The aim: boosting facilities, bolstering partners and incorporating more technology in an effort to provide by 2025 the 92 million meals needed annually to feed the hungry in 13 counties. That’s a 50 percent increase from what NTFB provided in 2015. Visit ntfbstophunger.org.

“We believe strongly that feeding our neighbors promotes healthy communities,” John Beckert said.

Already, NTFB has raised $40 million from companies, foundations, organizations and families. Ross and Margot Perot gave $2 million after their children Ross and Sarah Perot, Nancy Perot and Rod Jones, Suzanne and Patrick McGee, Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, and Katherine and Eric Reeves kicked off the campaign with a lead gift of $10 million.

“Through this gift, we recognize and honor our grandmother Lula Mae Perot and our Aunt Bette Perot while encouraging subsequent generations of our family to make sure our neighbors are fed with love, hope, and compassion,” Katherine Perot Reeves said.

The Perots and other NTFB supporters ceremonially broke ground Feb. 17 on the Perot Family Campus, a $25.5 million, 222,000-square-foot distribution and volunteer center to go up near Coit Road and President George Bush Turnpike.

Construction will begin later this year at that 13-acre site next to Atmos Engergy on Mapleshade Lane in Plano and continue through 2018, said Anna Kurian, NTFB director of communications.

“We serve all the way up to the Red River,” Kurian said. “By having a more central volunteer/distribution center, it will be easier to get food to all of our hungry neighbors.”

The campus will include 60,000 square feet of dry warehouse space, 70,000 square feet of refrigerated space, a 28,000-square-foot volunteer center with capacity to accommodate 400 people a day, plus office space, 18 docks, and a community garden.

Once complete, the campus will replace NTFB’s 115,000-square-feet warehouse on Dan Morton Drive, where most agencies pick up food now. NTFB plans to keep its 75,000-square-feet main campus on Cockrell Hill Road, but use of that facility will evolve, Kurian said.

NTFB administrative offices moved to the Dallas Farmers Market, where a 16,000-square-foot building will include a demonstration kitchen and community spaces as well as offices. It will be known as The Moody Center in honor of The Moody Foundation, which gave $5 million to the campaign.

Facility improvements will help improve and expand food distribution while increasing engagement with volunteers and supporters, interim president and CEO Simon Powell said. Those goals are part of a 10-year plan launched in 2015.

The plan includes helping partner agencies expand with some serving as mini-food banks or distribution hubs and others employing mobile pantries. Through a partnership with Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, NTFB will use technology to track health needs of clients.

“We knew if we could get the plan right, the community would support us,” said Anurag Jain, vice chairman of the NTFB board.

Jain, a Preston Hollow resident, told of how on a miserable day after laying off seven colleagues a billboard prompted him to get involved with the food bank. The image reminded him of his workers. The message: “Huge potential today, hungry tomorrow.”

NTFB aims to meet its capital campaign goal by the end of the year, but the work for hunger relief won’t stop there, he said. “We’ll get passed the $15 million, and we will keep going if we can.”

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