Hunger never takes a holiday

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Volunteer firefighters are serving three free community meals on Saturday, Dec. 30.

Since the Burnet County Hunger Alliance (BCHA) was formed last year, volunteers have been pleased with progress in bringing together organizations that focus on delivering food to those who need it, with one notable gap—the holidays.

Some food pantry and meal programs are interrupted to allow volunteers time with families and for travel.

A new effort to fill the gap is gaining some traction this year with the help of the volunteer fire departments in Marble Falls, Cottonwood Shores and Spicewood.

“The firefighters have come to the rescue,” said Pam Rogers, one of the BCHA volunteers. “On Dec. 30 they will serve pancake meal at three different locations.”

The Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department was the first to step up, Rogers said.

The meal will be served as breakfast at the MFAVFD station, at 606 Avenue U, from 8-10 a.m.

The Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department will serve their Community Pancake Breakfast as brunch from 8 a.m.-noon at the Spicewood Community Center, 7901 County Road 404.

The Cottonwood Shores Volunteer Fire Department Community Pancake Dinner will be served 6-8 p.m. at the fire station, 610 Birch Lane.

“Marble Falls and Cottonwood Shores can use more volunteers,” said Rogers. “Just call for Cheryl at 830-953-9038 or email to join in.”

“Very few food services avail between Christmas and New Year,” said Madeleine Manigold, another volunteer from Spicewood. “We have a website, It has a calendar with information about all the places that offer food pantries and free meals, about their holiday closings and about the alliance.”

The fire department meals and other regular free meals throughout the community do more than alleviate hunger.

“People who live by themselves, elderly or not, and people who want to connect with the community come for the fellowship,” said Rogers. “We began with the idea of a holiday meal last year, with one in Burnet and one in Marble Falls and we saw right away that transportation is a problem. We hope this new model of having meals in a neighborhood, in a safe place like a fire department will be close enough for some to walk. Besides, the fire departments are always fun.”

But delivering food to the hungry is still the main focus.

“A significant number of children—up to 60 percent in Burnet County—qualify for breakfast and lunch at school,” noted Rogers. “That is interrupted during the holidays as well.”

“A term we have all learned is 'food insecure,'” said Rogers. “While adults may have money to buy something for the children, they may not have money to put food on table for themselves, or maybe enough for five days a week but not the other two. They may be relying on fast food meals that are not as nutritious as meals from pantry foods.”

The groups estimates that more than 6,500 residents in Burnet County—about 15 percent of the total local population falls into that food insecure category. More than half of those earn too much money to qualify for food stanps and a third are ineligible for most federal nutrition programs.

The BCHA meets once a month and, beginning in January, they will meet for six months in Burnet and six months in Marble Falls. The work includes coordinating among various food sources to find and distribute surplus where it is needed, maintaining the up to date website.

“Anyone interested in attending can leave a message on our webpage and we will get back to them,” noted Rogers. “We are open to the public would love to have more business members and community volunteers.”

“Simply raising awareness of hunger is one of our primary goals,” said Manigold. “We welcome questions and we have been pleased at the range of people who are responding to volunteer.”

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