Houston Food Bank

Innovative ways to feed a community and give others a fighting chance at a job

The impact

  • Doubled the food capacity to feed low-income families.
  • 100 million nutritious meals distributed annually by 2018.
  • Expanded job training programs for prisoners and probationers.

“We were delighted when CRF stepped forward as a potential partner. They are one of the few investors in the country with the capacity to engage in this very large and complex process.”
—Beth Tanner, CFO

The opportunity

More than 900,000 individuals in Southeast Texas don’t have consistent access to enough nutritious food. On any given day, 66,200 are hungry; 2,800 of them are children.

Houston Food Bank has been there for them since 1982, but its original facility had become too small, inefficient, and run down to meet the continuing and growing needs of the community. If the food bank could find a bigger and better facility, it could provide more food to more partner agencies, expand programs for prisoner job training, and much more.

The need

Houston Food Bank began a capital campaign to raise $56 million for the purchase and renovation of an existing office campus of three buildings that would increase the food bank’s square footage by more than fourfold. It would take money from many sources to meet such an ambitious goal.

The help

After learning about the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) federal program, the food bank saw a great opportunity and hired a third party to identify potential partners. The search was on for a partner that understood such a highly regulated effort. Once CRF was contacted, the wheels were soon in motion for an NMTC $26.5 million loan to purchase and renovate the new property. The loan was a huge boost for the food bank’s fund-raising campaign, putting its overall goal well within reach.

The community

With the new, efficient facility, Houston Food Bank can now distribute twice the food it used to and, by 2018, plans to provide 100 million nutritious meals to hungry families across Southeast Texas.

The additional space also opened doors to expand a program called Serving for Success. Prisoners and probationers learn marketable skills, improving their chances to land good paying jobs. Participants can earn a certificate in warehousing, and a shiny new production kitchen provides valuable culinary training for jobs in the restaurant business.

The food bank also searches for as many ways as possible to collaborate with community partners. Its freezer facility is leased to a company that pays the food bank monthly rent on a 20-year lease, helping to cover many of the hard costs in moving into a new space. A future truck facility is also planned that can be used by local colleges as a truck driving school, bringing Houston Food Bank even more resources to serve and strengthen its community.