Mike Snider walked through the doors at the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) on a Saturday following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He saw the devastation in New Orleans and his first instinct was to find a place to volunteer in his own city. The NTFB staff asked if he could come back later in the week to help, and he quickly agreed. After retiring from a career as a manager at UPS, Mike had settled into substitute teaching, but he still had plenty of time and energy to give back. The North Texas Food Bank was a perfect fit.
Twelve years later, Mike is still volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank five days a week, leading teams of volunteers as they sort donated food for distribution. “I’m addicted to this work. I have to stay busy and stay moving.” Even when Mike suffered a stroke in 2009, he incorporated his required physical therapy into his NTFB volunteer role, rolling pallets and lifting cans. His strength and stamina have returned, and his passion for helping others is clearly contagious.
The North Texas Food Bank plays a critical role in providing access to more than 190,000 meals each day for hungry children, seniors and families through a network of more than 1,000 programs and 200 Partner Agencies in a 13-county service area. To better serve the northern counties in the region, NTFB recently broke ground on a new distribution center in Plano that will be completed in fall of 2018.
Each year the North Texas Food Bank receives 34,000 volunteers who assist in the distribution center, community food pantry, and at special events. Food donations come in from individuals and businesses, including fresh food donations from grocery stores and restaurants. And Mike sees it all. “We have more than enough canned corn and green beans! What we really need is rice in two-pound bags, dried pasta, dried beans, canned tuna, and jars of peanut butter,” he advised.
As part of the MassCare Task Force, North Texas Food Bank has stepped in to provide emergency food for Hurricane Harvey evacuees who have travelled to Dallas. And the NTFB Social Services team has been on site at all Dallas-area evacuation shelters to help people sign up for SNAP services. The disaster relief teams are also keeping in close contact with partner agencies to ensure that any increased needs are met as evacuees may choose to stay in Dallas.
For Mike, this most recent string of hurricanes reminds him of why he began volunteering. “I get to feed people. That’s what matters,” he said. And when the North Texas Food Bank is closed on Mondays, Mike is still helping others. He and his wife Pam volunteer together each week at Children’s Hospital in the Art Clinic, entertaining and playing with children who are waiting to be seen by a doctor. And if you are wondering when Mike ever takes time to relax, don’t worry, he and Pam do take the occasional vacation. In fact, he is already looking forward to his next glass of wine in Tuscany and a trip to Vermont see the colorful autumn leaves. The team at North Texas Food Bank will certainly miss him while he’s away.
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Story by Mary Martin with photos by Hunter Folsom.