Volunteers Deliver 5,000 Meals to Children

For some youngsters, school lunch is the only reliable meal of the day. During the weekend, when children are not at school, many often go hungry. But in Houston, Texas, volunteerism, corporate engagement and good old-fashioned ingenuity came together recently to help solve that problem.

Texas_Houston_Food_Bank_MainThe Houston Food Bank (HFB) Backpack Buddy program works with area schools to provide food that hungry children can take home each Friday. Larry Effler, a development scientist at Dow’s site in nearby Freeport, led a group of employees to help package 4,000 pounds of granola and breakfast cereal for the Backpack Buddy program.

It began with an interesting opportunity. A major breakfast food company was closing a plant and was willing to donate a truckload of cereal to HFB. But to be useful, it had to be packaged into manageable portions. HFB contacted Effler asking if Dow, which had arranged for materials donations to HFB in the past, could help out again.

But that was just the beginning. On the last Saturday in September, Effler rallied 16 Dow volunteers to join people from several other area companies, churches and service organizations to get bagging. The Dow team filled more than 2,700 of the bags, enough to provide more than 5,000 bowls of cereal to hungry kids.

Texas_Houston_Food_Bank_Photo_2_Kennedy_MartinDow came through in a big way: 20,000 24-ounce zippered bags to pack up the cereal. Dow doesn’t make the bags, but it makes the raw material – plastic resin – and sells it to companies that do. Effler contacted the development team for one such customer, Accredo. The team, which included Marty Root, Stacy Fields and Lamy Chopin, arranged to provide enough resin to cover the cost of the bags.

“It was an honor to have organized Dow’s participation at the HFB’s Volunteer Day,” Effler said. “We provided needed volunteer support to help the HFB Backpack Buddy program and had fun together. We’re looking forward to additional Dow volunteer opportunities at the HFB for 2016 and beyond.”

Similar arrangements between Dow and other customers have yielded donations to HFB of stretch wrap film, collapsible bulk bins and 96-gallon wheeled bins.

“As a leader in the packaging industry, this is the type of initiative that clearly illustrates the relevance of our products that are needed to help protect and transport food,” said Greg Jozwiak, North America commercial vice president. “But more importantly, it also demonstrates the passion our people have to make a difference in the communities in which we live.”

For an in-depth look at the Backpack Buddy program, including a short video, go to www.houstonfoodbank.org/programs/backpack-buddy/.