Kids’ Meals, the country’s only nonprofit organization to deliver free, nutritious meals to preschool-aged children in need, today launched its first-ever capital campaign, Building Hope. The campaign will support the purchase and renovation of a purpose-built facility, which will allow the organization to serve more than 26,000 children a day by 2031, more than tripling its current capacity.
Prior to the pandemic, Houston already had the highest rate of child food insecurity in the nation. The pandemic compounded the situation by creating a long-term economic impact that experts predict will affect low-income families for many years. In March 2020, the organization experienced a 135% increase in demand overnight. In 2021 alone, Kids’ Meals will deliver a record 1.6 million meals, 325,000 grocery bags and connect families with more than 52 essential social services. It is the only organization nationally to deliver meals to families who have little means of obtaining food for their young children on a regular basis.
The Building Hope capital campaign has 100% support of the board and will be chaired by Group 1 Automotive President & CEO, Earl Hesterberg and his wife Susan Hesterberg. The couple will make a significant personal pledge on behalf of their family, helping pave the way for others to donate to this critical campaign.
“Susan and I first became involved with Kids’ Meals when we saw the enthusiasm our Group 1 employees had with regard to volunteering their time to prepare lunches. It simply is not acceptable that there are tens of thousands of hungry children right here in Houston,” said Hesterberg. “If we can provide a custom-built production facility for Kids’ Meals, we can expand their capacity and feed thousands more.”
Since its inception in 2006, the organization has delivered more than 8 million free, healthy meals to the homes of hungry children in 42 zip codes across the city. Kids’ Meals current facility is a lease without enough space or parking to meet the sky-rocketing demand. The organization is looking for 4-6 acres, a 50,000 square foot building, and 150 parking spots in a central location near its current area of Heights/Garden Oaks.
“Kids’ Meals encourages all Houstonians to help us provide food to children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said Neil Russell, Kids’ Meals chairman of the board and Sysco’s senior vice president of corporate affairs. “Together, we can create a better future for these children and our city by providing nutritious food during a critical time in their development.”
“With 1 in 4 Houston children facing food insecurity and 95% 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,” said CEO, Beth Braniff Harp. “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.”
This purpose-built building will accommodate more than 36,000 volunteers annually, help expand Kids’ Meals daily meal delivery as well as build upon life-changing collaborative partnerships with community partners, increase refrigerator/cooler space, and position Kids’ Meals to continue to lead the fight against childhood hunger.
For a complete informational packet about this project, or if you wish to donate, please visit www.kidsmealsinc.org or email Cynthia@kidsmealsinc.org.