Struggling families in a 21-county area served by the Central Texas Food Bank will have something to be thankful for this Christmas as the Western Rice Belt Conference Committee donated 11,000 pounds of rice.
Committee members, who farm in an area served by Wharton, Matagorda and Colorado county offices of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, decided to make the donation from funds already gathered for their annual conference that now will be held virtually due to COVID-19.
“Food insecurity is at an all-time high in Central Texas,” said Paul Gaither of Central Texas Food Bank. “The Central Texas Food Bank is seeing unprecedented demand for its services, and our resources are strained to the limit. That’s why we are so grateful to the Western Rice Belt Production Conference Committee for this donation.”
The rice was purchased from Riviana Foods and milled and packaged into 2-pound bags for delivery to the food bank in time for the holiday.
“This donation of 11,000 pounds of packaged rice to the Central Texas Food Bank is being made on behalf of the rice farmers in the lower Colorado River basin, an amount of rice for 110,000 servings of rice,” said Corrie Bowen, AgriLife Extension agent for Wharton County. “This was a great opportunity to bring rice to the table to our friends in Austin.”
Funding for the rice was provided by the committee via conference sponsors representing the entire rice industry that supports rice growers in the lower Colorado River basin with inputs from seed, fertilizer, irrigation water, insurance, internet, fuel, machinery, grain drying, grain handling, grain marketing and more.
“This donation could not be possible without the committee members who represent the Texas Rice Council, U.S. Rice Producers Association, as well as Riviana Foods, the Central Texas Food Bank and the Rice Marketing Association,” Bowen said. “COVID-19 has certainly drawn more attention to food security, and the enormous infrastructure and workforce responsible for creating a safe and reliable food supply. It’s also shown us there is a real need for food in Central Texas communities, and we hope this gift helps our neighbors through the holidays.”
By working with Riviana Foods, the committee sourced rice from within two hours of Austin, ensuring a quick turnaround and local recipients of the donation, explained Dwight Roberts, president and CEO of the U.S. Rice Producers Association in Katy.
The virtual Western Rice Belt Conference will be Jan. 20 on the Zoom platform. To register for the event, visit Western Rice Belt Conference.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension contributed this article.