Nearly 60 celebrity servers including elected officials, health care personnel, first responders, business leaders and media personalities will wear aprons for the Brazos Valley Food Bank’s 29th Feast of Caring event Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It’s just an eclectic group of people all in one place for two hours, and you don’t have that all the time,” Theresa Mangapora, executive director of the Brazos Valley Food Bank, said. “And you get to eat and feel good about supporting the Brazos Valley Food Bank, which we love.”
The diverse aspects of the community that were represented at the event are part and parcel of what makes the local Food Bank what it is today.
“Food banks, if they’re being honest, really are a warehouse full of food without all of the partners that help us get the food out and identify the people in need,” Mangapora said. “And without those strong relationships, we wouldn’t be as effective as we are.”
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She explained that the event was a way to thank those partners and to help other community members learn more about the work of the food bank and its programs for the Brazos valley.
The Brazos Centre will host the lunch event. Long tables are set up for picnic-style eating. Celebrity servers will serve the meal buffet-style, with rice, beans and sausage, as well as dessert and a beverage.
Mangapora said she hopes to have the same problem they faced in some of the event’s best years, when they needed to add more tables to accommodate the crowd.
“That’s a good problem to have,” she said.
In 2020, the event had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s event had a lower attendance than usual because people were being cautious, she said. The event still raised $57,000 despite a lower turnout in 2021. This was due in large part to the sponsorships of people who were interested but didn’t plan to attend.
She stated that this year she was a “remarkable” author, they hope to match or exceed last year’s total, and, as of Monday afternoon, had received $36,000 in sponsorships. H-E-B Lawyers Title Co. in Brazos, William and Barbara Savage, as well as an anonymous donor, make up the top sponsorship level. All sponsors will be recognized during the event.
The lunch is free and open for all; donations are welcome to help the food bank.
“We’re not saying you have to give us $100 or you have to give us any amount. You can give us what is comfortable for you,” Mangapora said. “And, honestly, if you can’t give anything, then come have a meal. It’s really supposed to be available for everybody.”
She stated that the event serves as a reminder that there are still people in the Brazos who fight hunger, especially when inflation is involved.
Mangapora noted that fuel and food are two of the most costly areas. She said that when people with the same income are faced with an unexpected change in their finances, or higher costs, they have to make tough choices.
“I don’t blame people for prioritizing the roof over their head because that’s extremely important — they’re paying their rent,” she said. “And I don’t blame anyone for making sure that they still have their car because it’s kind of hard to get around in the Brazos Valley without a car. Food is the most important thing that goes. It’s possible to do it for a while. It is impossible to eat so let your children eat. You can eat fewer. That’s when the food pantries are just so imperative.”
Because of the uncertainty that people experienced at the beginning and the help they received at the food banks, hunger became a more prominent issue. Now, as the pandemic has gone on, and with inflation now taking people’s attention, hunger as an issue is not at the top of people’s minds like it once was, she said.
“You can’t see it,” Mangapora said. “You can’t look at somebody and know that they’re dealing with it. So I want this event to be a reminder of why the food bank’s needed, why their support is needed, and just for us to remember.”
People who cannot attend but want to show support can donate by texting “FOC2022” to 979-205-2045, online at bvfb.org or in person at 1501 Independence Ave. in Bryan.