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How The Houston Food Bank Helps Low Income Texans

How The Houston Food Bank Helps Low Income Texans

The Houston Food Bank offers some of the most robust assistance programs I’ve ever seen from a food bank! If you live in the Houston area, you absolutely need to know about this critical community resource.


In this article, we’ll explain what this organization is, what programs they offer, who is eligible and how you can get the help that you need.

About the Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank serves 18 counties in Southeast Texas. In that area, there are around one million people who are food insecure. That’s why this pantry has been serving their community with wholesome, life-giving food since 1982!

The 18 counties served by the Houston Food Bank include:

  • Austin County
  • Brazoria County
  • Brazos County
  • Burleson County
  • Chambers County
  • Fort Bend County
  • Galveston County
  • Grimes County
  • Harris County
  • Liberty County
  • Madison County
  • Montgomery County
  • Robertson County
  • San Jacinto County
  • Trinity County
  • Walker County
  • Waller County
  • Washington County

This makes the Houston Food Bank the largest food bank in the United States, both in terms of size and distribution. They have built a network of more than 1,600 community partners to help distribute food. Their partners include community meal sites, food pantries, shelters and more.


How the Houston Food Bank Helps

This organization offers many different programs that offer help and support to the local community. Given the vast service area, these programs may not be available in all areas.

Of course, the flagship purpose of the Houston Food Bank is to help the people who live in their service area get food. That’s why the majority of the programs offered by the pantry are food-focused.

Backpack Buddy

Since 20% of children in Southeast Texas are food insecure, the pantry has taken a special interest in helping children stay well-fed. This is especially important when children have to eat at home during weekends or school breaks.

The Backpack Buddies program helps fill this need. They provide free take-home meals and snacks. This program is available to children who participate in school lunches or who attend summer meal sites.

In order to get extra food for you child through this program, you need to fill out the Backpack Buddy Permission Slip Form and submit it to your school. If your school does not currently offer this program, tell your school principle or counselor to apply on the Houston Food Bank website.

Cultural Awareness Initiative

The Houston Food Bank wants everyone to have access to food that they enjoy. There is a lot of diversity in the 18-ccounty service area. That’s why they launched the Cultural Awareness Initiative, to ensure that they are able to supply items that align with cultural preferences.

The hope of this program is to raise awareness and increase the diversity of food donations so that everyone’s needs and cultural preferences can be satisfied.


Food for Change

The Houston Food Bank wants to help people achieve their life goals and overcome poverty. To do this, they have a series of special offerings that they call Food for Change.

For example, clients can receive a food scholarship when they commit to participating in certain programs. These programs are focused on training and education, to help expand your opportunities. When you participate, you can get access to more free food. The Food Scholarship distributions typically give out 60 pounds of healthy food per client twice per month!

Clients who are commit to participating the Community Health Program can get a food prescription through Food Rx. This program provides 30 pounds of free fruits and vegetables plus four additional items. This is provided twice per month.

Senior Box Program

Every month, local low income seniors can get a free food box from The Houston Food Bank! This box is offered to low income seniors over the age of 60 through the USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Home delivery may be available in some cases. If you’re eligible, you definitely need to ask the food bank about their Senior Box Program.

Summer Meal Sites

When school is out for the summer, many children go hungry. To help, The Houston Food Bank hosts free lunch sites for children ages 18 and under. Kids are not required to be enrolled to get a free meal.


You can find the location near you by texting FOODTX to 304304 (or COMIDA to 304304).

Nutrition Education & Health Promotion

Through the Nutrition Education program, the Houston Food Bank offers classes in nutrition, meal preparation, budgeting and more.

Some of the classes include (but are not limited to):

  • Eating Healthy on a Budget
  • Fundamentals of Cooking
  • Understanding Nutrition Facts
  • How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Food & Your Body
  • MyPlate & The Five Food Groups

All the classes are free as long as you are eligible for SNAP benefits. Classes are offered in both English and Spanish.

Community Assistance Program (non-food)

At Low Income Relief, we frequently hear from readers and YouTube subscribers about how difficult it is to navigate the applications for different programs like SNAP, Medicaid and TANF. Although we can’t help you with those applications, the Houston Food Bank can!

The Community Assistance Program (CAP) provides application assistance with several critical programs. They can’t help you apply for all of the grants we’ve reported on but they can help you apply for these programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Children’s Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Women’s Health Program
  • CHIP Perinatal Program

Additional help may be available through some of the pantry’s partner organizations as well. When you request help from the CAP program, be sure to ask for referrals to any other organizations that may be able to help you!

Teachers Aid (non-food)

Teachers who work in low income schools can get help with supplies from The Houston Food Bank. The Teachers Aid program invites eligible teachers to shop the free supplies in the center.

How to Use the Houston Food Bank

In addition to these incredibly helpful programs, the Houston Food Bank has also taken steps to make sure that the pantry is as accessible and helpful as possible. There are many different ways that you can get help.

Community Resource Center

The Community Resource Center is located at the East Branch. Twice per month, you can order food in advance for curbside pickup. It couldn’t be easier to get help!

Here are the steps to place your curbside order:

  1. Go to the Order Ahead platform.
  2. Click “Get Started.”
  3. Enter 77029 as the zip code.
  4. Select the Community Resource Center at Houston Food Bank.
  5. Click “Start Order.”
  6. Choose a pickup date and time. Times are available between 4-8pm on weekdays or 9am – 4pm on Saturdays.
  7. Select your items.
  8. Place your order. Don’t skip the additional questions!
  9. Save the order number.
  10. Pick up your groceries!

When you place your order, you should get a text message confirming that your order went through. If you don’t get a text, be sure to email the Houston Food Bank right away to confirm your order.

School Markets

The School Market program creates food pantries inside middle schools and high schools. This helps get the food from the huge facility in Houston into the communities that need it.

Since the market is run by students, it also helps them develop life skills and experience. Students have to stock the shelves, clean up, manage inventory and more.

Apps & Maps

The Houston Food Bank has many locations throughout the 18-county service area. You can find the one nearest you by using the map tool on the food bank website.

You can also download the app to schedule appointments, learn more about the programs, and find services near you!

Key Takeaways

The Houston Food Bank is a great resource for low income residents of Southeast Texas. The bank can help you find free food, apply for other benefits, and so much more. Services are available in English and Spanish!