DFW Restaurant Week’s Food And Wine Night Celebrated The Kick Off Of the 20th Annual Fundraiser With Cadillacs, Grazing And Sunshine

Heat and sunshine didn’t dissuade folks from attending the DFW Restaurant Week’s Food and Wine Night party on Thursday, August 3. Taking over the entire One Arts Plaza driveway, food stations were set up along the sides with a stage at the far end facing the mega high rise.

Cadillac owners were pleased to find out that they were due free valet parking courtesy of Restaurant Week Co-Sponsor Dallas-area Cadillac dealers. Only problem arose when the valets couldn’t tell a Cadillac from the other makes.

Then there was trying to get into the party. It required IDs’s and tickets to receive the required wristbands. Some guests though the bracelet translated into free grazing only to find out that all was not gratis. One gal had a mini-sticker shock when she discovered that her adult beverage had a price tag. Oops!

One Arts Plaza driveway

Cadillac on display

As the sun set, the crowds sought the shady side of the driveway or headed into the air-conditioned lobby. Luckily, as the sun set, guests found conditions more user friendly. Still those fountains the center sure did look inviting. But so did the food and those spiffy Cadillacs on display.

Marijke Lantz, Bill Durbin and Susan Arledge

Elise and Daren Martin

Anna and Benson Kurian

Looking cool as a margarita were bare-shouldered types like newlywed Elise Martin with husband Daren Martin, Susan Arledge, Bill Durbin, Marijke Lantz, Anna Kurian with husband Benson Kurian wearing his comfortable Toms, Allyson  Hartenstine, Gable Mansfield, Chase Badzik, Pedro Armstrong and Danielle Abril, who had to borrow a blouse from cohort Carly Mann’s closet.

Allyson Hartenstine, Gable Mansfield, Chase Badzik, Carly Mann, Danielle Abril and Pedro Armstrong

The 20th Annual Restaurant Week officially got underway with a preview weekend on Friday, August 4, with more than 100 area restaurants serving up vittles during its run to break up the doldrums of August and with 20% of every meal going to North Texas Food Bank or Lena Pope!

Anna And Raj Asava Kick Off The Newly Established North Texas Food Bank Indo-American Council With A $100,000 Donation

The North Texas community is a tapestry of amazing people representing a cornucopia of cultures. The main common denominator is that they all share the desire to make the lives of their neighbors and strangers better.

Anna Asava, Trisha Cunningham and Raj Asava*

How about an example? Aradhana “Anna” and Raj Asava. They are part of North Texas’ Indo-American community which “has grown exponentially over the years, with nearly 200,000 people in our region.” The Asavas recognized a great opportunity to have their fellow Indo-Americans partner up with the North Texas Food Bank.

According to Raj, “Anna and I are passionate about the work of the North Texas Food Bank and we wanted to raise awareness around the issue of hunger that exists right here in North Texas.

In addition to creating the North Texas Food Bank’s Indo-American Council (NTFB-IAC), they put their money where their hearts are by pledging a $100,000 donation to the NTFB “in conjunction with the launch of NTFB’s Indo-American Council, which the couple will co-chair.”  

With “prominent members of the community” already signing on board to support the initiative, “the NTFB-IAC has set its sights to fund one million meals per year.”

Anna added, “We are excited to launch the NTFB-IAC to raise hunger awareness, community involvement, as well as channel the resources and contributions of the Indo-American community towards the mission of NTFB.”

Commenting about the Asavas’ mission, NTFB President/CEO Trisha Cunningham said, “The Asavas are determined leaders. Having just one of them help would be transformational. I count us doubly lucky to have them both by our side. Anna and Raj, have a clear vision for the Indo-American Council and with their donation, they have already put 300,000 meals on the table for our hungry neighbors. I am certain that their share enthusiasm and drive will be a draw for their peers, helping raise awareness for the critical issue of hunger and ultimately will help the NTFB reach our goal of providing 92 million meals by 2025.”

JUST IN: Dean Foods Foundation Is Serving Up Some Delicious Treats For North Texas Food Bank And The Wilkinson Center Wednesday

With the annual DFW Restaurant Week benefiting the North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home just a few weeks away, the NTFB is getting an early treat.  Dean Foods Foundation is presenting a check for $125,000 Wednesday morning to NTFB.

North Texas Food Bank*

The hand-off will take place at The Wilkinson Center, which is part of the Christmas in July celebration. In addition to the check, Oak Farms will “be donating 325 half-gallons of their DairyPure® brand milk and will be distributing it to the clients served at The Wilkinson Center during a morning volunteer shift.”

Don’t you just know that NTFB newbie CEO Trisha Cunningham, whose first day was Monday, is gonna think this happens every day. One only wishes!

* Graphic courtesy of  North Texas Food Bank

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

JUST IN: Trisha Cunningham Named North Texas Food Bank President/CEO

Incoming North Texas Food Bank Board of Directors Chair Anurag Jain just announced that Trisha Cunningham has been named president/CEO of North Texas Food Bank.

Trisha Cunningham*

The former Texas Instruments Chief Citizenship Officer will oversee the “a group of 200 NTFB employees in their work to provide access to healthy foods for food insecure individuals across NTFB’s 13-county service area.”

During her tenure at TI, the company “climbed up CR Magazine’s Top 100 Corporate Citizens annual rankings, coming in at number 15 on the list in 2017.”

This new role is not Trisha’s first involvement in the non-profit sector. She has served in leadership positions for Leadership Women (national), Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, VolunteerNow (Volunteer Center of North Texas), Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas Friday Group, Dallas Breakfast Group, DFW Corporate Citizenship Network, Junior League of Dallas, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Advisory Board – Alliance for Greater Works, Leadership Dallas, Leadership Texas, Leadership International and International Women’s Forum Fellows Program.

According to Anurag, “We are confident that Trisha’s unique experiences and passion for strengthening the communities she is a part of make her the right leader to take the helm at NTFB.”

Trisha will be in the office officially on Monday, July 17. Instead of sending her flowers, why not make a donation to the NTFB in her name?

* Photo provided by North Texas Food Bank

Under A Bright Sun, The Star Shone With Great Taste, Cowboys, Chefs And North Texas Food Bank Fans

After the ups and downs of weather days combining cashmere shawls with Daisy Dukes, Sunday, May 7, was bright, shiny and in the 80s. It was especially shiny at the Dallas Cowboys’ Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, where the North Texas Food Bank’s fundraiser, Taste of the Cowboys, was preparing for 1,000 guests. Presenting sponsor for the event was Caliber Collision.

There had been changes from the past. It was no longer called Taste of the NFL. It was no longer at AT&T Stadium. It was no longer led by he-who-used-to-be-known-as Kent Rathbun, although there was a chap non-cooking on the premises with his family (wife/restaurateur Tracy Rathbun, son Max Rathbun and daughter Garrett Rathbun).

Garrett Rathbun,, Max Rathbun and Kent and Tracy Rathbun

While the Star’s mini-Jerry World is still a project in progress, there was some confusion about where to park and check in. VIPs like Susan and John Farris, Larry James of  CitySquare, current Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, and former Cowboys star Preston Pearson were to enter for a 5 p.m. start, but evidently some general-admission early birds nestled in a line before their 6 p.m. official get in.

John and Susan Farris

Preston Pearson and Larry James

As signage directed all to general parking a block or so away, smart VIP-ers headed around the corner to the valet check-in. Once on foot, though, the confusion continued. Folks lined up 10 deep to check in, only to finally learn: “Oh, you’re supposed to go outside and the lady there will direct you.” Alas, there was no woman there, so humbled VIP-ers wandered down the walkway like children lost at the State Fair. Soon they discovered an outdoor mini-stadium field surrounded by food stations and topped with a stage with bands performing (the headliner set for 8:30 p.m. was to be Reckless Kelly).

Taste of the Cowboys stage

The good news was that, despite the lack of signage directions, the in-the-flesh NTFB staffers were more than willing to help get things straightened out.

Once inside the air-conditioned lobby between the indoor and outdoor playing fields, there were a Mirmir Photo Booth, a Kendra Scott set-up, and a number of silent auction items.

Dunia Borgia

Aaron Hardwick and Tina Um

Chris Memme

Outside, there sure wasn’t any A/C. But there were a heck of a lot of local chefs cooking up a storm. Dunia Borgia of La Duni Baking Studio had replaced her frozen treats (at last year’s event) with sweet empanadas; Tina Um and Aaron Hardwick were showing off their General Tsao’s Chicken from Howard Wang’s China Grill; and BIRD Bakery proprietor Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, famed for her cookies, cupcakes, and mini-cupcakes, was enjoying the afternoon with Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch. Other eateries represented included Mi Cocina, Seasons 52, Off the Bone Barbeque, and The Common Table. 

Jamie Poper, Jill Bailey, Taylor Wencis and Ben Austin

Blythe Beck

Craig Walter

Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Taste Of The Cowboys

With the sun shining bright overhead, The Star was filled to the brim with food and football lovers like former Dallas Cowboy Preston Pearson and current Dallas Cowboy Travis Frederick on Sunday, May 7 for the Taste Of The Cowboys benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

Preston Pearson and Larry James

Travis Frederick

While the stations surrounding the field served up everything from from Chef Chris Memme‘s tuna tostadas to Dunia Borgia‘s empanadas, Reckless Kelly was on stage.

Chris Memme

Dunia Borgia

The post is almost complete. But the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery is already served up!

Tia And Shel Wynne To Co-Chair North Texas Food Bank’s 2017 Harvest Fundraiser

Harvest*

Tia and Shel Wynne (File photo)

Fresh from co-chairing last month’s TACA’s Party On The Green, Tia Wynne is back fundraising. This time the former Cattle Baron’s co-chair is partnering up with her husband/Wynne Transportation VP Shel Wynne for the North Texas Food Bank’s 2017 Harvest.

Plans called for the foodies to gather at The Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market on Friday, September 15, for “an array of Farm-to-Table restaurants, entertainment and a silent auction.” The Wynnes have already lined up Energy Transfer Partners to be the presenting sponsor.

Thanks to the previous three Harvests, the NTFB has reaped $790,372 and provided 2.3M meals for its child and senior programs.

Underwriting opportunities are available now by contacting Lora Farris.

Despite The Threat Of Rain, North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls Had Guests And Restaurants Spooning Throughout The Meyerson

Paula Lambert, Simon Powell and Meaders Ozarow

As the herds headed out of town for early spring break on Friday, March 10, 1,300+ supped up at the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank. It was the first Empty Bowls, since the death of full-of-life NTFB CEO Jan Pruitt. While her spirit championed on with restaurants setting up at the Meyerson. Her team including Interim President/CEO Simon Powell rallied the area restaurants and foodies resulting in the event coming off without a hitch.

Even as Mother Nature threatened to damped the outdoor activities, the experienced NTFB-ers simply took the precaution of pulling the VIP entrance and Bowl Tent and Checkout back to the lower level of the Meyerson.

The True Food Kitchen and Paradise Bakery and Cafe stations were moved to the Opus restaurant.

Joseph Alexander, Diana Ivette, Brandon Williams and Juan Prado

Empty Bowls’ bowls to take home

As one poor soul sought a parking space in the bowels of the underground parking, cutie pies like Joseph Alexander, Diana Ivette, Brandon Williams and Juan Prado welcomed guests and handed out blue bags and direction for guests. But the crowds didn’t mind the hassle of finding parking spots. They were there to pick out their bowls, bid on the ones in the silent auction and graze on two levels of the Meyerson.

Suzy Sotelo, Jolie Oree Bailey and Oscar Aponte

Low Country Quisine’s Jolie Oree Bailley was pleased that their participation last year evidently moved them from the upper level to the main lobby. Others didn’t care one iota. They were too busy doling out food.

The chaps at the Samsung Photo Booth encouraged guests to step inside the oversized capsule to sample the next stage of selfism that proved to be pretty awesome. Just past the booth was the KPMG VIP area with tables and wine.

Bailee Weeks, Salvatore Gisellu and Monica Leibowitz

Upstairs Hill and Knowlton’s Mark Edgar sampled Salvatore Gisellu‘s handmade beef meatball in a cup from Urban Crust.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there are thousands over at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery of the restaurateurs who made it all possible.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2017 Empty Bowls

While any kiddo worth her/his salt was packing for spring break on Friday, March 10, droves of parents lined up outside the Meyerson for the North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls sup-athon. Thanks to adorable volunteers the wait was made so much easier.

Joseph Alexander, Diana Ivette, Brandon Williams and Juan Prado

And while it may have been missing longtime President/CEO Jan Pruitt, the restaurateurs, the artisans and more than a thousand guests rallied to provide funds for those within the North Texas community who literally hunger for their next meal.

Paula Lambert, Simon Powell and Meaders Ozarow

While the write-up is in its final stages, photos of the chefs and other sightings are available at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for a lookie.

North Texas Food Bank Makes Changes In Its Annual Food Raising Event With Cowboys And Chefs

Change is in the air. The North Texas Food Bank has made changes for its fundraising “Taste of the NFL.” First, the name has readjusted. It’s now known as “Taste of the Cowboys.” And they don’t mean rodeo types.

Taste Of The Cowboys*

Second, the location has been moved from AT&T Stadium (the home turf for the Dallas Cowboys) to The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco (aka the new home base for the Dallas Cowboys).  

But what stays the same is the involvement of past and present Dallas Cowboys, entertainment (Reckless Kelly) and top-area restaurants and chefs participating Shinsei, The Capital Grill Plano, Seasons 52, Asador, Lockhart Smokehouse, Texas de Brazil, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Bistro 31, Kent Rathbun, Taverna, Toulouse, The Common Table, Perry’s Steakhouse And Grille, Cane Rosso, Howard Wang’s China Grill, il Calabrese Ristorante And Bar, Yucatan Taco Stand, Mayfield Ice Cream, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen And Bar, Legends Hospitality, Cowboys Club, Off the Bone Barbeque, Frosted Art, Omni Frisco Hotel/Neighborhood Services, Rye. Craft Food And Drink, La Duni and Mi Cocina.

Reckless Kelly*

The shindig takes place on Sunday, May 7, with the Main Event taking place from 6 to  10 p.m. For a few bucks more, the VIP Event (5 to 6 p.m.) is available.  Tickets are online now!

Presented by Caliber Collision, all proceeds from the tasty event will benefit NTFB’s child programs.

* Graphic and photo 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

A Gentle Reminder: Greenville Avenue’s St. Patrick’s Day Run/Walk, Parade And Festival To Take Place This Saturday

2017 Dallas St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival map**

While St. Patrick’s Day is still a week away, the Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade And Festival will take place this Saturday along Greenville Avenue benefiting the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association.

2017 St. Paddy’s Day Dash Down Greenville 5K*

But before the parade kicks off at 11 a.m., the 22nd Annual St. Paddy’s Day Dash Down Greenville will start at 8 a.m. Organizers are predicting 5,000 participants will run/walk the 5K down “the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, tree-lined Southwestern Blvd., Skillman and University Blvd.,” benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

Hopefully, all the runners/walkers will be across the finish line before the parade’s floats hit the avenue.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival (File photo)

Now, some suggestions:

  • Barriers and other preparations for the run and parade will start showing up Friday afternoon. So, it might be wise to run those errands today and early tomorrow. Be forewarned: Some stores like Office Depot along Greenville might be closed Saturday during the parade.
  • Weather guessers are claiming that Saturday morning may be damp-ish, so if you’re gonna be among the 100,000+ spectators, you might want to bring along a slicker or umbrella.
  • Take DART to the Greenville station because parking is going to be painfully limited.
  • If you decide to linger into the afternoon and night enjoying the adult libations, reconsider driving yourself home. No matter how responsible you may think you are, you’ll be much more so by having Uber or another professional service drive you home.
*Graphic courtesy of Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival 
** Graphic courtesy of St. Paddy's Day Dash Down Greenville 5k

JUST IN: Friday’s18th Annual Empty Bowls Will Be Totally Indoors At The Meyerson

Just heard from the North Texas Food Bank team and “due to anticipated inclement weather conditions,” they’ve already kicked into back-up mode for the 18th Annual Empty Bowls food fest on Friday at the Meyerson. That means everything is gonna be indoors!

18th Annual Empty Bowls*

All the restaurants (Aisan Mint, Blue Bell Creameries, Blue Mesa Grill, Carso Mediterranean Grill, Celebration Restaurant, Dining at the Meyerson, Empire Baking Co., Kroger, Low Country Quisine, McAlister’s Deli, Meso Maya, Mozzarella Company, Norma’s Cafe, Paradise Bakery and Cafe, Royal Cup Coffee, Shake Shack, Snappy Salads, SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza, Tejano Brothers, Tortaco, True Food Kitchen and Urban Crust) will be high and dry inside the Meyerson serving up all type of goodies.

Bowls for sale (File photo)

And then there are the bowls that will be auctioned off and for sale.

Since parking is going to limited, why not buddy together for Uber?

* Graphic courtesy of 
North Texas Food 
Bank

JUST IN: North Texas Food Bank To Hold Plano Groundbreaking And Announce $55M Mega Gameplan To Expand Services to 92M By 2025

Just when you think the North Texas Food Bank has provided food for everyone, they discover greater needs. Ah, shoot! Despite all the ovens baking and the stove tops cooking, there are greater needs on the horizon and they’re in your own backyard.

North Texas Food Bank*

Today next door to Atmos Energy at 3697 Mapleshade Lane, Plano, at 11 a.m., the NTFB will hold a groundbreaking for a 222,000-square-foot distribution center that “will accommodate a robust volunteer program and expanded operation to increase the number of nutritious meals distributed annually to 92M by 2025.”

The event will include a killer gameplan. Oh, geez! They’re undertaking a $55M capital campaign — Stop Hunger Build Hope —to expand operations to the area.

North Texas Food Bank (File photo)

So, before you have that poached egg or head to Starbucks for the zingo caffeine fix, think about those, both children and adults, who literally hunger for a meal. That is the mission of one of North Texas’ most incredible nonprofits.

So, why not pass on that lunch and help someone who is literally starving for a decent meal? In fact, why not break for an early lunch and head to the groundbreaking? You haven’t been in Plano in ages.

* Graphic provided by North Texas Food Bank

18th Annual Empty Bowls Is Gearing Up With Pottery Wheel, Area Restaurants And A Special Kroger Early Bird VIP Preview Bargain

The North Texas Food Bank crew is gearing up for their 18th Annual Empty Bowls on Friday, March 10. And while they’re still going through the adjustment of losing their mother hen Jan Pruitt, they’re soldiering on knowing that every dollar is a tribute to Jan’s mission of feeding neighbors in need.

Empty Bowls’ bowls (File photo)

Once again, the soups, chefs and bowls will be at the Meyerson. But this year there will be a pottery demonstration in front of the Meyerson. But don’t spend too much time watching the potter’s wheel whirl the birthing of a bowl. Not only might you get a tad-bit dizzy, you’ll want to head inside to visit the dozens and dozens of local restaurants, each ladling out their own liquid concoction.   

Empire Baking Co.’s Meaders Moore Ozarow and Mozzarella Company’s Paula Lambert (File photo)

This year’s line-up includes Asian Mint, Blue Bell Creameries, Blue Mesa Grill, Carso Mediterranean Grill, Celebration Restaurant, Dining at the Meyerson, Empire Baking Co., Kroger, Low Country Quisine, McAlister’s Deli, Meso Maya, Mozzarella Company, Norma’s Café, Paradise Bakery & Café, Royal Cup Coffee, Shake Shack, Snappy Salads, SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza, Tejano Brothers New Texas Cuisine “Black Tie” Catering, Tortaco, True Food Kitchen and Urban Crust.

Empty Bowls guests filling the Meyerson (File photo)

General admission tickets are going for $40, but smart folks are going to spend a little extra change by buying the Kroger Early Bird VIP Preview ticket that includes a first opportunity to purchase the handcrafted bowls and the “exclusive VIP area complete with wine and an exclusive chef station.” If you order your ticket before Monday, February 27, it’s $125. After that date, the price ramps up to $175. Go for it now! Use that extra $50 to buy a bowl or two.

Insider tips: The following week is spring break for most of the area schools, so why not have lunch at Empty Bowls and head on home to pack your bags for the holidays. The NTFB folks won’t tell your boss that you’re skipping out early.

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…]

North Texas Food Bank’s 9th Annual Golden Fork Awards Recognized Major Corporations As Well As Hands-On Individuals

Hunger is preventable. Unlike diseases that are researched and solved thanks to lab work, the solution to hunger is found through hands-on efforts by organizations and individuals. Leading the charge locally is the North Texas Food Bank. On Tuesday, November 1, the mega-food provider recognized some unsung heroes at the 9th Annual Golden Fork Awards presentation at its Farmers Market administrative headquarters.

With Booker T. Washington High Schoolers Kennedy Park and Damian Garcia playing a cello and harp at the pre-presentation reception, NTFB Chief Marketing Officer Brett Gray reported that while the last two months of the year are their biggest months, he would be delaying the ad campaign until after the November 8th election day.

Regarding the status of North Texas Food Bank President/CEO Jan Pruitt, who has been away for a year tending to health needs, Brett said that her cancer treatments “are having an effect. Hopefully, she’ll be back sometime soon.”

At 5:45 p.m., Interim President/CEO Simon Powell kicked off the presentation, reporting that 70M meals were provided during the NTFB’s 2016 fiscal year. But as part of its 10-year plan, 92M will be needed annually.

Right on schedule, the awards were presented including:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award — State Fair of Texas (“The annual It’s a Fair Deal campaign – whereby fairgoers can bring in canned goods in exchange for a discounted admission – is the NTFB’s largest canned food drive, with more than 267,000 lbs. of food donated in 2016 alone.”)
  • Campaign Of The Year — Dallas Theater Center (“For the past nine years, the Dallas Theater Center has raised awareness and funds for the NTFB at their showings of A Christmas Carol. Through this partnership, more than $538,000 has been donated to the NTFB which has allowed for the Food Bank to provide access to more than 1.6 million meals for hungry North Texans”) and The Dallas Morning News Charities (“They support organizations that work in the fields of sheltering, hunger relief, emergency services and rehabilitative programs, and provides non-profits – including the NTFB – with the critical funds necessary to meet their missions. Their support of the NTFB has allowed us to grow one of our core child feeding programs, Food 4 Kids. Since 2006, The Dallas Morning News Charities has donated more than $540,000 to NTFB.”)
  • Corporation Of The Year — Bank Of America (“The organization donates funds, time and talent to the Food Bank regularly. The bank is one of our top volunteer groups year over year with eager groups coming to donate their time year-round. In addition, their employees’ time, Bank of America also donates critical funds to help the Food Bank meet our mission. In 2016 Bank of America will donate $25,000, which will help provide 5,000 backpacks for our Food 4 Kids program, and another $50,000, which will help provide 150,000 meals for hungry North Texans.”)
  • Partner Agency Of The Year — Mission Oak Cliff (“The 2016 Partner Agency of the Year honoree, Mission Oak Cliff – a community ministry of Cliff Temple Baptist Church – has a long history of cooperation with the North Texas Food Bank. As one of our charter members, Mission Oak Cliff has worked with the Food Bank to combat hunger since the early 1980s. They serve an average of 700 families per month and more than 22,000 individuals per year.”)
  • Retail Partner Of The Year — Sam’s Club (“Sam’s Club, our 2016 Retail Partner of the Year, provides an invaluable amount of support to the NTFB. They donate a tremendous amount of food product annually — more than 3 million pounds to date in 2016. In addition to food donations, Sam’s Club employees also regularly volunteer at the Food Bank warehouse, sorting and boxing foods for families in need.”)
  • Anurag Jain, Joyce Goss, Joanne Teichman and Simon Powell

    Anurag Jain, Joyce Goss, Joanne Teichman and Simon Powell

    Volunteer Of The Year — Joyce Goss and Joanne Teichman (“This year NTFB’s Golden Fork Award for Volunteer of the Year is shared by two Dallas philanthropists, Joyce Goss and Joanne Teichman, for their work supporting NTFB’s Letter Writing Campaign. This endeavor helps fund NTFB’s Food 4 Kids program which operates in many local schools, proving a weekend backpack filled with kid friendly, shelf stable foods to chronically hungry children. Thanks to the efforts of these honorees, more than 721,548 weekend backpacks were provided to children in need.”)

  • Youth Leader Of The Year — Quinn Graves and Stella Wrubel (“The youngest honorees for the evening, Youth Leader of the Year awardees Quinn Graves and Stella Wrubel took a simple idea of selling mistletoe during the holidays, and transformed the endeavor into a successful business plan which includes support from retailer Highland Park Village. In the two years that the mistletoe sales have benefited the Food Bank, these 5th graders have helped provide more than 168,000 meals, or $56,000 in donations.”)

    Stuart Reeves, Quinn Graves, Lucy and Steve Wrubel, Stella Wrubel, Jennie Reeves and Katherine Reeves

    Stuart Reeves, Quinn Graves, Lucy and Steve Wrubel, Stella Wrubel, Jennie Reeves and Katherine Reeves

  • Hunger Ambassador Of The Year — Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere (“The Honorable Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere is a regular collaborator with the Food Bank. He couples big ideas with a big heart for giving. His work to expand NTFB’s Food 4 Kids program in the city of Plano is just one of the reasons he was selected as Hunger Ambassador of the Year. Thanks to his efforts, now more than 1,400 elementary aged students receive a weekend backpack filled with nutritious foods, and are also offered special holiday meal boxes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break to ensure these students and their families receive the nutrition they need over the holiday breaks.”)

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.

 

2015 Crystal Charity Ball Committee Distributed Record-Breaking $6.5M To 11 Dallas Children’s Non-Profits

There are hundreds of children…no, make that thousands of children…who went to sleep on Tuesday, April 12, never having heard of a gal from Andrews, Texas, by the name of Michal Powell or an organization called Crystal Charity Ball.

That’s just peachy keen for the 2015 CCB Chair Michal and her gall-gal committee of 99. For a little over a year, they made calls, hand delivered contracts and championed the cases for Dallas children to net a record-breaking $6.5M.

Some of that money would go to healthcare, ranging from sexual abuse to hearing and sight challenges. Other funds would assist homeless and hungry kids and those working through the challenges of autism.

Pat McEvoy, Tucker Enthoven, Vinnie Reuben, Gregg Ballew, Michal Powell, Leslie Diers, Susan Farris and Mary Clare Finney

Pat McEvoy, Tucker Enthoven, Vinnie Reuben, Gregg Ballew, Michal Powell, Leslie Diers, Susan Farris and Mary Clare Finney

But on this evening, it was Christmas with Michal and her team including Underwriting chair Tucker Enthoven presenting the real-thing checks to the 11 recipients thanks to host Westwood Trust Senior VP Gregg Ballew. Among the crowd of more-than-smiley recipients and guests were Dave Woodyard, Ola Fojtasek, Robyn Flatt, Cara French, Sandra Session-Robertson, Bob Sweeney, Elizabeth Gambrell, Tom Turnage, Pam Busbee, Ona Foster, Daffan Nettle, Dr. Tom Campbell, Beth Thoele, Michael Craven, Margaret Hancock, Kimberly Williams, Anne Reeder, Doug Adkins, Tricia George, Tom Black, Mary Martha Pickens, Jan McAuley, Fredye Factor, Pat McEvoy, Vinnie Reuben, Leslie Diers, Mary Clare Finney, Susan Farris, Barbara Stuart and 2016 CCB Chair Christie Carter.

Here is a breakdown of how the checks were distributed:

  • Catholic Charities of Dallas — $575,000 for the School Readiness Program
  • Dallas Children’s Theater — $564,400 for Sensory-Friendly Performances and Classes
  • Dallas Life — $546,919 for the Kids Life Program
  • Dallas Services — $646,064 for the Vision for Children Program
  • Family Compass — $600,000 for the Healthy Families Program
  • Foundation for the Callier Center for Communication Disorders — $630,000 for The Pediatric Hearing Aid Project
  • H.I.S. BridgeBuilders — $539,450 for the Crossover Athletics Program
  • Interfaith Housing Coalition — $500,000 for the Childcare and Youth Services Center
  • Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers —$500,000 for Ewing’s Sarcoma Pediatric Cancer Research Program
  • North Texas Food Bank — $750,000 for the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program
  • Texas Health Resources Foundation — $459,124 for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program

Wanna bet what the first thing the 11 recipients did the next morning? Deliver the checks to their banks, of course. The second thing was to put that money to work.

Grovel Alert: 4th Annual Can Do Luncheon

With the 4th Annual Can Do Luncheon just days away, Event Chair Sara Melnick Albert is reporting that there are just a few seats left to make it a sell-out. This year’s fundraiser for The Wilkinson Center at the Dallas Country Club on Tuesday, May 10, is honoring North Texas Food Bank, Regina Montoya, Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty, Marilu Rodriquez and Christina Park.

Sara Melnick Albert (File photo)

Sara Melnick Albert (File photo)

Regina Montoya (File photo)

Regina Montoya (File photo)

Anne Reeder (File photo)

Anne Reeder (File photo)

The luncheon is a marvelous introduction for folks to learn about one of East Dallas’ little-known organizations that successfully supports people and families in becoming healthier, smarter and more productive.

Thanks to Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder, this luncheon runs on schedule, so guests aren’t late to their next appointments. But they do leave with better knowledge how they can contribute to their neighbors thanks to the services (adult education, family enhancement and food and emergency services) provided by the Center.

Tickets are still available to help Sara cross the finish line of a sellout.

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.