Kids’ Meals’ First Capital Campaign, Building Hope, Launches with the Support of Community Corporate Leaders
Houston’s Kids’ Meals, the only nonprofit in the United States to deliver free nutritious meals to preschool-aged children in need, launched Building Hope, its first capital campaign, on June 3, 2021. The outcome of the campaign is to enable the purchase and renovation of a suitable facility that will allow the organization to triple its current capacity of serving children to serving 26,000 per day by 2031.
Even before the pandemic, Houston’s rate of child food insecurity was the highest in the country. In March 2020, the demand for Kids’ Meals’ services rose by 135 percent overnight. According to experts, the situation created by the pandemic has had a long-term impact that will affect low-income families for a number of years. By the end of 2021, the organization will have delivered a record 1.6 million meals and 325,000 grocery bags. It will also have connected families with over 52 essential social services.
Kids’ Meals leases its current facility, which is no longer adequate for its needs. The organization is looking for a 50,000-square-foot building on four to six acres of land with 150 parking spots located near its current location. Once purchased and renovated, it will accommodate over 36,000 volunteers annually, dramatically increase refrigerator space, expand daily meal delivery, and strengthen collaborative relationships with community partners.
Beth Braniff Harp, CEO of Kids’ Meals, states, "With one in four of Houston’s children facing food insecurity, and 95 percent of a child’s brain development happening in the first five years of life, we need to act now to capacity-build to meet the needs of our youngest and most vulnerable Houstonians. We can further leverage an access point into the deeper issues facing poverty-stricken children with our daily touchpoint in Houston’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods where social determinants of health indicate that food is a primary need.”
The Building Hope campaign will be chaired by President and CEO of Group 1 Automotive, Earl Hesterberg, and his wife Susan Hesterberg. On behalf of their family, the philanthropic couple will make a significant personal pledge leading the way for others to do the same.
“Susan and I first became involved with Kids’ Meals when we saw the enthusiasm our Group 1 employees had regarding volunteering their time to prepare lunches. It is simply unacceptable that there are tens of thousands of hungry children right here in Houston,” says Hesterberg. “If we can provide a custom-built production facility for Kids’ Meals, we can expand their capacity and feed thousands more.”
Neil Russell, chairman of the board of Kids’ Meals and senior vice president of corporate affairs of Sysco, adds, “Kids’ Meals encourages all Houstonians to help us provide food to children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Together, we can create a better future for these children and our city by providing nutritious food during a critical time in their development.”
To donate to the capital campaign, please visit https://kidsmealsinc.org/campaign/
About Kids’ Meals
Kids’ Meals is a caring nonprofit whose mission is “to end childhood hunger by delivering free healthy meals to the doorsteps of Houston’s hungriest preschool-aged children, and, through collaboration, provide their families with resources to help end the cycle of poverty.” Every day of the year, Kids’ Meals’ volunteers prepare thousands of healthy lunches and deliver them to children enrolled in their program. Since its inception in 2006, the organization has delivered over 8 million free healthy meals to the homes of hungry children in 42 zip codes across the city using a fleet of 11 delivery vehicles.
In addition to the five nutritious weekly meals the organization provides, it also supplies its children with a variety of helpful resources. These include: free books every quarter, turkeys at Thanksgiving, toys, and fun at a holiday Christmas party, and information on critical community resources families need to help them with other issues they face due to extreme poverty.