Avera VP Enjoys Giving Back at Houston Food Bank

February 10, 2016

Mary Dalton, Vice President of Asset Services at Avera, spends a part of nearly every week volunteering her time at the Houston Food Bank, the largest Feeding America food bank in the U.S., in both the amount of food distributed to its partner agencies and in the size of its facility.

One Food Bank program that Mary works with on a regular basis is called Backpack Buddies. The program targets at-risk kids (K-12) who usually can only count on full meals (provided by the school) during the school week. This program discreetly sends kids home with a backpack full of nutritious food for the weekend which includes not only 6 meals for them but also items like a box of cereal, rice, macaroni and cheese, or snacks that the child can share with their family. Mary says, “It's amazing to hear feedback from the staff of how grateful these kids are and how excited they get if a special item, such as a toothbrush (a toothbrush!), is included in the backpack.” Depending on the manpower, Mary and a team of other volunteers can make over 4,200 backpacks in one shift.

The tangible impact is one of the most rewarding aspects of her work, “Because you are physically putting together packages or sorting food, you see and hear how many meals you create that day,” says Mary. “Volunteering at the food bank really puts everything in perspective for me. It reminds me how thankful I'm for everything I have but also thankful I'm able to make a difference in someone else's life.”