About a week ago, just as Hurricane Harvey cleared out, a friend and I volunteered at the Houston Food Bank. We were familiar with what the Houston Food Bank does for the community, and My Table magazine has been a long-time supporter of Houston Restaurant Weeks — which was just extended through September 30, by the way!
Now that Harvey has left the lives of many Southeast Texans in shambles, the Houston Food Bank is working twice if not three times as hard to get food out to everyone who needs it. We’re asking you to take a look at the fantastic online auction items we’ve been offered, in an effort to help them reduce their extra costs these next few months. (Scroll down or click the blue heart below to check out some of the items we were given for our first-ever online auction. Already were outbid? More items will go live for block 2 at 9 am on Friday, September 8.)
What’s costing them extra? The HFB crew is pounding away around the clock to load and unload donations on trucks, airplanes and vans. Employees and volunteers are picking up extra shifts, and the organization is asking for many times more volunteer workers than usual. There are pallets to stack, boxes to pack, meals to serve, pantry items to drop off, first aid kits to deliver, personal care items to sort and hugs to give.
Last year, Houston Restaurant Weeks raised over $2 million for the Houston Food Bank, which is equal to 6,045,473 meals served at the Houston Food Bank. We think that the 2017 Houston Restaurant Weeks program will raise that much, if not more.
But we also know the production costs that go along with getting millions of Texans fed and cared for during this recovery period will be much greater than usual. Here are some costs that you might think about in connection with the Houston Food Bank.
- HFB trucks are crisscrossing the city up to six times as often as usual and across the state far more than usual, too. Result: much higher fuel costs. These trucks are delivering donations to churches, shelters and other food pantries to all parts of Texas that have been impacted by Harvey’s wind damage and flood waters.
- Teacher’s Aide, a sub-organization within the Houston Food Bank, gathers school supplies and classroom materials for students who are unable to afford the supplies themselves. Many classrooms and entire schools have been flooded, and the need for back-to-school supplies is huge. Replacing destroyed school supplies will cost the Houston Food Bank both time and money, considering that the HFB is utilizing additional warehouse space at different addresses in order to house donations. By the way, children don’t just need notebooks, pencils and glue sticks. They also need backpacks and food for the weekends. Through Teacher’s Aide, educators can come and “shop” the donations for classrooms donated to the Houston Food Bank.** Did you know that a $69 donation to the Houston Food Bank can help supply a child with classroom materials AND feed him or her every weekend during the school year?
- The electric bill that cools one of the largest warehouses in the country, as well as all of the volunteers and employees working around the clock, will be much higher than usual. The AC is cranking, the deliveries are frequent. The lights are on all day and night while production continues.
- The water and gas bills for Keegan Kitchen, the on-site kitchen that prepared more than 20,000 hot meals a day before Harvey disaster relief efforts, will skyrocket.
Those are a lot of extras. So when Dallas photographer Kelly Berry reached out to us last week to ask if My Table magazine knew where he could donate four beautiful photographic prints in order to raise money towards Houston’s recovery efforts, we knew we could auction them off and dedicate the funds to the Houston Food Bank. As news got out, suddenly more chefs and restaurateurs came to us wanting to give what they could — e.g. one-of-a-kind dining experiences that might fetch a great bid at an auction. And, just like that, we were planning an online silent auction. That auction goes live today!
Some of the items you’ll find are multi-course dining experiences from some of Houston’s hottest and most iconic restaurants, like the Chef’s Table dinner for six, which includes wine pairings donated by State of Grace. Hungry for more? How about a 25-course dinner (yes, you read that right) for four from Eculent chef David Skinner? A six-course dinner for six guests at the Chef’s Table at Damian’s Cucina Italiana? Yes, it includes all the wine pairings. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to check out Riel, but just haven’t made it over there yet? You can bid on a five-course feast for two (with wine) from the hot Montrose eatery.
If your home or restaurant needs its walls freshened up, don’t pass up the stunning Texas Food Truck images donated by Kelly Berry. He features McKinney (shown below), Dallas, Houston (shown at top) and Canadian, Texas food trucks in this series, part of which appeared in our Texas Food Photography competition last year. Not only are these images stunning, Kelly is framing them for you too.
Are you a long-time supporter of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo? Do you own a steakhouse, a French restaurant or just love to collect trophies? Matt and Lauren Czapski generously donated four vintage French livestock awards from 1888, 1889, 1908 and 1935. They can be hung on your wall, and each also comes with its own acrylic display stand. Tres chic.
Of course we’ve got wine. Magnums, unopened cases of super rare vintages and collectible bottles for your personal cellar. Thank you to the fine folks who selected special items from their own collection to give to our auction.
These items are just a sampling of what we’ve received so far, and we’ll be adding more items soon for a second block of auction items which will go live on Friday. Auctions close on September 13 and 14, so bid now.
Creating an account is easy, and payments by credit card or your PayPal account will automatically be processed through PayPal when bidding closes if you’re the highest bidder. You can also donate cash contributions through the auction page as well. We appreciate anything you can give, from $5 to $500.
While we can ship the items noted, we cannot ship them using your donation dollars. We are happy to ship those items using your FedEx account or UPS account number. Just email us after you get your invoice, and we’ll get you sorted out. Of course, you can drop by and pick them up, too. We will hold your winning items for up to 30 days after the auction has ended. And, unfortunately, we cannot ship wine. (Additionally, any auction item that is wine or has wine pairings, must be purchased by someone of legal drinking age.) Wine along with anything else you bid on can be picked up from our Montrose headquarters through coordination between our team of employees and volunteers and you. We want you to get your item and to love it.
All proceeds with the exception of the cost of processing credit card payments and the use of Charity Auctions Today webservices will go to the Houston Food Bank. We hope you’ll share this link on social media and bid on the incredibly generous donations offered to us for this project. Thank you!
**We have begun collecting crayons and packages of notebook paper to donate to Teacher’s Aide. If you’d like to drop off new or barely used classroom supplies such as glue sticks, new packages of notebook paper, unopened reams of computer paper, pencils, kid scissors or colored pencils, please email email@example.com and set up a time to drop off your donations at My Table headquarters in Montrose. We’re happy to bring it with our delivery next Sunday if the Houston Food Bank is out of your way.