Programs from HFB Houston Food Bank Foundation.

The Houston Food Bank, which is a local non-profit foundation, not only provides free items to the needy, but the non-profit administers a number of social services across Harris County. There are resources such as the Backpack Buddy program for children, a free referral helpline, as well as meals on wheels for senior citizens, among many others. The programs do mostly revolve around providing free food though, but their services are available to residents of all ages and incomes.

SSOP, or Social Services Outreach Program, is the resource that individuals can contact in order to get applications for state of Texas as well as federal government benefits. The extent of what people can apply to is extensive, and the Houston Food Bank can help with some or all of the following.

Public aid for food is provided to infants and pregnant mothers from WIC, and another highly demanded program is SNAP food stamps. There are also programs for the elderly, such as CSFP, and applications for free school lunches for children from low income families.

Other health care programs as well as cash assistance can be applied too as well from the SSOP service. Staff from the food bank in Harris County can assist with Women's Health Initiative, Medicaid, or direct client’s to Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

To qualify for any type of government aid, the applicant will usually need to be low income and have various forms of supporting documentation, including, but not limited too identification for all family members, Proof of Income, copy of leases or utility bills, information on medical expenses, and details on savings and other assets. The applicants entire financial situation will need to be reviewed when applying for help. To learn more on any of these options, or to get help in applying, staff from SSOP can be reached at 832-369-9390, and all services are offered in both English and Spanish.

Of course there are hundreds of emergency food pantries and soup kitchens around the city and county. The hotline from HFB can provide addresses, hours, and information on them. Many centers are operated in partnership with churches, non-profits, and groups such as the Emergency Aid Coalition. The hotline can provide more details on these locations.




Students can get free food or meals from Backpack Buddy. The Houston Food Bank, partnering with school and teachers across Harris County, will confidentially give children that rely on free or reduced-priced lunches food for the weekend. So this ensure they have some source of nutrition year round.

Kids Cafe provides food or meals after school, and it also operates year round during the summer months and holidays. Children can receive a free food item or meal, and it is run in partnership with dietitians, students, chefs, volunteers, and others that coordinate their services with the Houston Food Bank. Many of the meals are prepared directly by the food bank as part of the Keegan Kitchen resource.

Nutrition Education is available for the Harris County community at large. The food bank provides this service so families can learn how to budget their incomes more effectively and also prepare a health meal. There are sessions for teens, low income elderly, children, pregnant mothers or babies, healthy adults, and, others.

Discounted groceries and perishable goods are part of the Senior Box Program. This is a part of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP. Note this is not a free program, but enrollees are encouraged to pay a small dollar amount for the box. There are also income limits in place by the Houston Food Bank, so conditions will need to be met and there may be waiting list in place. Call 832-369-9390 for details.




All too often, teachers need to spend their own money, out of pocket, on supplies for their classroom. The Houston Food Bank Teachers Aid was created to address this problem. It provides free school supplies, notebooks and more for teachers in low-income schools in Harris County. This is for teachers, and they can select the items they need in order to help provide a successful learning environment for students.

One fairly unique service administered is Serving for Success. This is a form of job training that is available at the Houston Food Bank (HFB) itself, and the organization will allow people the ability to gain work skills at the site.

The Houston Food Bank hot line can be reached at 832-369-9390. It provides extensive information on all of these services.




By Jon McNamara

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