North Texas Food Bank To Commemorate The Inspiration Of Its Late CEO/President Jan Pruitt

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

With Tricia Cunningham coming on board to head up North Texas Food Bank, don’t think that the late Jan Pruitt’s inspiration has ceased. Despite a lengthy health battle and her death in January, her spirit is way too powerful to be diminished.

To celebrate her legacy of feeding countless thousands of members of the community, she will be commemorated at both the NTFB’s Farmers Market headquarters and the under-construction Perot Family Campus in Plano, where “Jan’s Garden will serve as the cornerstone for the campus,” which is scheduled to open in late 2018.

Rendering of Jan’s Garden*

According to NTFB’s Anna Kurian, “Our team that offices out of the Farmers Market will also have a piece of Jan via the renaming of our street to Jan Pruitt Way.”

Yes, Jan is missed but far from forgotten. And thanks to the NTFB, the generations to come will know of a driving force named “Jan.”

* Graphic provided by North Texas Food Bank

Stock Up To “Stuff The Trolley”

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

On the heels of last Friday’s Empty Bowls that filled the Meyerson with restaurateurs and hungry patrons to raise funds for the North Texas Food Bank, NTFB’s Anna Kurian sends word about another foodie project. According to Anna, “Longtime Food Bank friends Janet and Phil Cobb are organizing a special food drive: ‘Stuff the Trolley’ to honor our late CEO Jan Pruitt. I know the Cobbs really want to make sure that this drive honoring Jan is a success.”

Stuff the Trolley*

Here’s the plan: On Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., food will be collected at the Trolley Turntable at the West Village, 2700 City Place West Blvd. That’s the DART Transit Station on City Place West Drive.

Sponsored by the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, both monetary and food items such as canned goods like tuna and peanut butter will be collected. If you were gonna donate your favorite jar of caviar, it’s a nice thought, but doesn’t quite fit the need for those in need.

If you can’t make it by, you can always donate here!

* Graphic provided by 
North Texas Food Bank

UPDATE: Arrangements Announced For Jan Pruitt’s Services

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

The North Texas Food Bank just shared the information about the visitation and funeral service for the late Jan Pruitt.

Visitation will take place on Friday, January 6, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home

Services will be 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, at First United Methodist Church Dallas.

In addition to parking at Bryan Tower (between Olive and Hardwood on San Jacinto) for a discounted rate, valet will be available behind FUMC on Harwood and San Jacinto.

Suggestion: Early arrival would be wise.

JUST IN: North Texas Food Bank CEO Jan Pruitt Is Officially “Stepping Down”

Gee, it seems all the cute nonprofit top  gals are retiring. First, there was TACA’s President/Executive Director Becky Young. Then earlier this week, Trinity Trust’s President/CEO Gail Thomas announced her retirement. Now, word comes that North Texas Food Bank President/CEO Jan Pruitt is “stepping down effective today.”

Becky Young (File photo)

Gail Thomas (File photo)

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

According to the official press release, “Rather than continue with her medical treatment and in consultation with her doctors, she has chosen to spend time with family and friends in the comfort of her home.”

Knowing Jan, after spending over a year battling cancer, she wants to focus on spending the holiday with her family and let her North Texas Food Bank family focus on providing for the thousands in need of food during the neediest time of year.

Luckily, Jan is such a smart cookie. Her vision for NTFB is in place and she has an all-star team in place to see that plan through.

So, if you want the ultimate perfect holiday gift, why not drop Jan a note and make a donation to her baby — North Texas Food Bank. And how about making it the price of a la-di-da dinner at some swanky Dallas restaurant? That suggestion also goes to area restaurateurs and nonprofits, who have long respected Jan’s 20 years at NTFB.

Remember, hunger is the first step in providing people with the ability to be educated, to create, to survive the next day and to even provide for their children and animals. North Texas Food Bank has been the oasis for so many, including your neighbors and strangers.

For the full announcement, follow the jump, but don’t forget to send Jan a note and make that donation.

[Read more…]

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Harvest

John and Mary Martha Pickens (File photo)

John and Mary Martha Pickens (File photo)

According to Harvest Co-Chair Mary Martha Pickens,

“On Thursday, September 15, the North Texas Food Bank will host its third annual Harvest, a moveable feast that features some of Dallas’ best chefs dishing out delectable bites and craft cocktails in the open air Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market. In addition to farm-to-table fare, this year’s event will feature great music, as well as one-of -a-kind auction items. Harvest truly is a wonderful event that benefits a worthy cause: helping fight food insecurity among children and seniors right here in North Texas.

Loyd and Michal Powell (File photo)

Loyd and Michal Powell (File photo)

“I have supported the NTFB for many years now, so when Jan Pruitt asked me if John and I would chair Harvest this year, alongside Honorary C0Chairs Michal and Loyd Powell,  I eagerly said yes, knowing that this effort would help put food on the table for people in need.

“My heart aches to think that somewhere here in North Texas, a child or a senior is going hungry.  Sadly that is the reality for one out of every four kids here in North Texas. These boys and girls don’t have access to the healthy foods they need to grow and thrive. Our seniors are also not immune to hunger, and often, a limited income makes it challenging to put healthy foods on the table. Many of the seniors served by the NTFB report having to choose between paying for foods or purchasing their medication.

“I know that MSC readers want to make a difference, especially when it involves celebrating a worthy cause among friends. To that end, I invite each of you to visit ntfb.org/Harvest to purchase tickets for this event. We are lucky to have a strong Host Committee for 2016, along with an auction committee, led by past Harvest chair and NTFB Board Member, Nancy Gopez.

“Harvest is shaping up to be THE event of the fall. On behalf of the North Texas Food Bank, we can’t wait to see you there!”

JUST IN: North Texas Food Bank COO Simon Powell To Fill In While CEO/President Jan Pruitt Takes A Leave Of Absence

There have been a few folks wondering how North Texas Food Bank CEO/President Jan Pruitt was doing. She was MIA at the Crystal Charity Ball check presentation in April, where NTFB Board Chair Tom Black received a check of $750,000. And then there was the Can Do! Luncheon in May when NTFB Board Member Katherine Perot Reeves accepted the Can Do! Award for NTFB.

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

It’s been curious because Jan is one of the most public figures in the North Texas nonprofit sector and hasn’t been seen since last September, when she underwent cancer treatments at MD Anderson.

Word just arrived that the doctors have ordered her to stop multi-tasking. So instead of juggling the needs of the community along with her recovery, she’s taking “a temporary leave of absence to focus fully on her health.”

NTFB’s board of directors have announced that NTFB COO Simon Powell will serve as Interim President and CEO.

According to Jan, “I have full confidence that Simon will lead the North Texas Food Bank very capably until I am able to return. Simon is backed by the best executive team and Board of Directors in my tenure with the Food Bank.  Until I return, the operation is business as usual, with a focus on closing the hunger gap in North Texas and achieving our goal of providing 92 million nutritious meals a year by 2025.”

Adding to Jan’s opinion is Tom Black, who said, “The Board of Directors fully supports Jan’s decision, and we wish her well in her complete recovery. We have full confidence in Simon’s ability to lead the Food Bank. He’s backed by a superb executive team, who’ll ensure the mission to feed our hungry neighbors moves forward in the interim.”

In the meantime, it certainly doesn’t mean that Jan won’t be able to read get well notes. Suggestion: Drop her a line by sending it to Jan Pruitt, c/o North Texas Food Bank, 4500 S. Cockrell Hill Rd., Dallas 75236-2028. And, if you really want to score brownie points, make a donation in Jan’s name to you-know-what.

Sold-Out 2016 Can Do! Luncheon Celebrated Food For Thought And Stories Of Success By Wilkinson Center Clients

Can Do! Luncheon

Can Do! Luncheon

Those Melnick sisters must have a great relationship with Mother Nature. Last year Leslie (Melnick) Diers chaired The Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Luncheon under clear skies. This was a first for the annual Wilkinson Center fundraiser that had previously had all types of thunder-bumper creating issues. This year Leslie’s sister Sara (Melnick) Albert chaired the 2016 Can Do! Luncheon and despite endless days of rain and storms, Tuesday, May 10, was clear, at least at noontime at the Dallas Country Club.

Sara Melnick Albert

Sara Melnick Albert

And the crowd of nearly 250 validated the theory that good weather turns out loads of folks. Luckily, the Wilkinson team was prepared with a game plan that was designed to run like an atomic clock. It was to officially start at 11 .m. and close at 1 p.m. That’s one of the perks of the Can Do! Luncheon. It appreciates guests and their time commitments.

Cynthia Melnick

Cynthia Melnick

Ellen McStay and Craig Innes

Ellen McStay and Craig Innes

Even before the official registration table was to open, guests were already in the club’s reception area “registering and mingling.” Within a half hour, the place was jammed with the likes of Melnick parents (Cynthia and Lester), Ellen and John McStay, Linda Perryman Evans, Nancy Gopez, Marsha and Craig Innes, Brett Gray, Kristina Whitcomb, Christi Carter, Jill Smith, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix, Susan Farris, Tori Mannes, Laura Reeder, Katherine Coker and Tucker Enthoven, who had hosted the patron party.

Regina Montoya and Brett Gray

Regina Montoya and Brett Gray

Linda Perryman Evans

Linda Perryman Evans

As if the guests knew the schedule, they took their places at tables in the ballroom. While officially a sell-out, the tables weren’t jammed together in the ballroom due to the fact that a couple of table sponsors donated their tables at the last minute.

Joe Acosta

Joe Acosta

Wilkinson Center Board of Directors President Joe Acosta welcomed the group and thanked Sara and the committee and introduced Hannah Buchanan, who provided the invocation. There was then a 20-minute break for lunch (cucumber soup, pan seared herb chicken with roasted fingerling mashed potatoes, baby carrots, broccolini and asparagus and apple pecan gastrique followed by salted caramel cheesecake topped with fudge sauce and whipped cream) to be served.

At noon Sara was at the podium thanking her committee, showing the inaugural issue of the Wilkinson newsletter and reminding folks that the centerpieces could be had for $20. She then turned to a key subject of the day — the Center’s food pantry. If everyone in the room texted “Pathways” to 24700 with a $75 donation, it would stock the Wilkinson’s pantry for the summer. Cellphones were seen being put to use.

Anne Reeder

Anne Reeder

Following a video on the Wilkinson Center, the Center’s Executive Director Anne Reeder introduced another video about the clients who are served by the Center that started off in 1983  as a neighborhood resource for food and clothing. Today it has expanded to include programs for family enhancement and work education like its newly established GED testing center.

Christina Parks

Christina Parks

Seamlessly, the first two awards of the day were presented to Wilkinson Center clients. First was Christina Parks, who had emerged from a childhood of neglect and abuse. Despite her rough start, she married “Joe,” had a daughter, Alexis, and “settled down to being a new life as a family.” But Christina, Joe and Alexis were “in a horrible accident,” resulting in the death of Alexis. Life became a “day by day” process. with no plans for the future. Years passed and eventually Christina and Joe had other children, and that’s what made her want to change her life. It was in September 2010 that Christina turned to the Wilkinson Center’s Food Pantry to help her feed her family. But she found more than food. Thanks to Wilkinson Center caseworker Sonja Wright, Christina learned about the possibility of earning her GED. The only problem was childcare. But thanks to the Center’s working with Workforce Solutions, “she was eligible for supportive services including childcare.” The results? Not only was she able to enroll in GED classes in September 2015, she moved quickly to the advance program.

It was noted that Wilkinson had 15 of its clients earn their GED this past December. This Saturday Christina would be one of 50 to earn their GED.

Next up was Marilu Rodriquez, who came with her parents from Chihuahua, Mexico, to the States in 1998 looking for a better life. But that also meant challenges, like learning English, earning her GED and becoming a citizen. Due to complications, she found herself being the sole support of her family. In tackling the language barrier, she was advised to go to the Wilkinson Center to learn interviewing skills. It was here that she met Wilkinson Center’s Veronica Tobias, who through the Career Works program, helped Marilu in taking the steps to reach her career path. Yes, her language skills were challenging, but Marilu saw it as an opportunity to improve. As for her advancing from working in a restaurant, she started volunteering at Children’s Health. “In less than a year she was able to turn that volunteer position into a full-time job with benefit as a Patient Care Technician” at Children’s.

Marilu Rodriguez and Veronica Tobias

Marilu Rodriguez and Veronica Tobias

The Wilkinson Center Food Pantry Manager Steve Thompson told how the North Texas Food Bank and the Center had worked side-by-side for more than 30 years. During that time he estimated that the NTFB has distributed more than 1,250 tons of food through the pantry in the past ten years. In addition to providing food, NTFB has also taught clients how to cook and prepare healthy meals for the Center’s clients.

Katherine Perot Reeves

Katherine Perot Reeves

Following a video, Anne told how the first person who took her to lunch when she became the Center’s executive director was NTFB’s Jan Pruitt. Representing Jan in accepting the Can Do! Award was NTFB Board Member Katherine Perot Reeves, who told how last year NTFB provided 63M meals. Yup, that’s right 63,000,000 meals! The plan calls for that number to rise to 92M by 2025.

Sara then introduced a video featuring County Commissioner Elba Garcia, Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton on the day’s final recipient Regina Montoya, who besides her many accomplishments is chairing the Mayor’s committee on Task Force on Poverty.

Regina Montoya

Regina Montoya

Upon accepting the award, she thanked a number of people and organizations. Then Regina told of a play she had seen that made quite an impression on her — “All The Way” — about LBJ. Early in his career he had been a schoolteacher in one of the poorest parts of Texas, where a lot of the students’ parents were migrant workers. During his presidency, he recalled that “he could see these kids coming to his classroom at the very beginning of the school year. But slowly, slowly, he would see the fire that had been in their eyes extinguish as the school year went on because of the struggle that they had to go through realizing that their parents were working as hard as they could to try to put food on their table.” That served as the impetus for Johnson to start the war on poverty.

Regina then told that in today’s Dallas,

  • 38% of kids live in poverty,
  • 90% of children are eligible for free lunches,
  • 70% of those that are poor are working and
  • 41% of the very poor have jobs.

She pointed out Carlin Morris, who was last year’s Can Do! recipient, had started the Center’s shoe drive.

In conclusion, Regina pointed out that her grandparents had come to this country with their children, who” probably had some of those days when they weren’t sure where the next meal was going to come from.” On this day Regina’s 92-year-old father and 85-year-old mother were seated at the front row table watching their Harvard Law School graduate daughter being recognized for their—and her—“can do” spirit.

For more photos from the Can Do! Luncheon, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

 

North Texas Food Bankers’ “Souper” Back-Up Plan Kept Empty Bowl Crowds Warm And Dry

The North Texas Food Bank team was prepared. After last year’s snow and ice, they had a back-up plan all warmed up for the Friday, March 11, fundraising “Empty Bowls” at the Meyerson. Okay, so the Highland Park and Richardson ISDs, Jesuit and Ursuline students were on spring break, but there were still a load of NTFB supporters and downtowners in need of soup as the temps dipped into the 60s with drips and drops from the clouds above.

Empty Bowls' bowls

Empty Bowls’ bowls

Just as the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. for the VIP types, the lineup was overflowing in the lower level with folks like photographer Lisa Stewart to check out the tables filled with hundreds of the handcrafted bowls for sale. The organizers were prepared for such a turnout and have chairs set up for double duty — to provide a path to the sell-athon and for sitting if the wait seemed a bit long. Even presenting sponsor Kroger’s Gary Huddleston had to check in!

Gary Huddleston

Gary Huddleston

Nico Sanchez

Nico Sanchez

Upstairs on the ground level the chefs like Tejano Brothers New Texas Cuisine’s Patrick Smith were serving all types of soups. Meso Maya‘s Nico Sanchez was double dutying. In addition to doling out Sopo de Pollo, he updated friends that the new location at Abrams and Mockingbird was scheduled to open late May. And, yes, it would have a patio for dining and sunning.

Across the way, a couple of cuties topped with crowns were helping Caitlyn Fantl sell NTFB T-shirts. Why the top gear? They were Miss Frisco Outstanding Teen Heather King and Miss Frisco Christina Clawson. When asked if they slept wearing their crowns, the response was laughter and the admission that it would be uncomfortable.

Griffin Schlitt and Liza Schlitt

Griffin Schlitt and Liza Schlitt

Taylor Ollivierre

Taylor Ollivierre

At the landing between the ground-level lobby and the upstairs balcony, mom Liza Schlitt and her three-year-old son Griffin Schlitt watched musicians like violinist Taylor Ollivierre provide the perfect background music for supping.

In the back of the lobby within the roped-off, super-duper VIP area, a table waited for NTFB’s Jan Pruitt’s arrival complete with a reserve sign and a glorious centerpiece.

Paula Lambert and Marisa Partin

Paula Lambert and Marisa Partin

On the other side of the Meyerson lobby that was jammed with designer soup bowls on display for the silent auction was a traditional favorite — Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company complete with Paula and Marisa Partin.

Evidently the word started making the rounds that smarty pants peeps were heading up the stairs, where Mi Cocina-ers were handing out gift bags and there were tables for sitting and supping. For those with a need for a sweet chaser, Panera had loads of cookies ripe for the taking.

Daniel Villatoro, Jolie Oree-Bailey and Stacey Setzer

Daniel Villatoro, Jolie Oree-Bailey and Stacey Setzer

Across the way was the dark horse soup of the day. Low Country Quisine ‘s Chef Jolié Oree-Bailey and her team (Daniel Villatoro and Stacey Setzer) were serving up shrimp-and-grits soup. It was impressing folks to a point that its vote jar of dollar votes had folks returning to add more greenbacks.

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: North Texas Food Bank’s Jan Pruitt Is On The Mend

The following statement was sent out from the North Texas Food Bank team:

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

“This statement is to inform you that Jan Pruitt, President and CEO, is under medical care at MD Anderson in Houston. Her doctors expect a full recovery, and with their encouragement, she plans to be back at work by the end of this month. She is currently working, as her schedule allows, and has left the day-to-day operation of the Food Bank in the hands of her executive team, led by COO Simon Powell.

“Tom Black, North Texas Food Bank Board Chair Tom Black said, ‘Speaking for the Board, we have full confidence in the Executive Team’s management of the Food Bank. At no time, has the leadership of the Food Bank been stronger. We wish Jan a speedy recovery as we move ahead with the execution of a bold ten-year plan and a brand new identity, which we will announce publicly on Monday.

“For those who wish to send Jan a card or note, please address to: Kathy Moore, c/o North Texas Food Bank, 4500 S. Cockrell Hill Rd., Dallas 75236-2028.”

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

Before you go wringing your manicured hands and fretting about Jan, stop it. She sought treatment the moment a problem was detected, had a great team at NTFB in place and is being the perfect example for others to follow. Another great fact is that thanks to funds raised, diagnosis and treatments are astounding and they’re the reason why Jan is planning on being “back in the saddle” in time for fall fundraising.

Why not drop Jan a note and thank her for showing spunk, smart thinking and serving as a stellar example? And while you’re at it, why not make a donation to the North Texas Food Bank in her name? Or get a reservation for Friday’s Harvest that benefits NTFB?