Current equipment at nutrition center on its last legs, AOC official says
Proper nutrition is an important element in a healthy life for people with HIV, and AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County tries to help fill its clients’ dietary needs with its nutrition center.
But the agency’s executive director, Dara Austin, said the food pantry has a few needs to fill itself, and one of those is the need for new freezers.
“The majority of our freezers are very old. They were either used when we got them to begin with, or we have just had them a very long time,” Austin said.
“What we need is to make a long-term investment in some new freezers.”
She said one of the nutrition center’s freezers recently broke down completely and others are “limping along, on their last legs.” And while the agency appreciates the generous donations of used equipment in the past, “what we need now is money to buy new freezers.”
“Getting used equipment would mean we would just end up right back in this same situation before long. New freezers would come with warranties, and would have a much longer life expectancy. That’s what we need,” she said.
Austin said the food pantry needs upright commercial freezers with glass doors, and that AIDS Outreach is looking for people willing to make cash donations or matching donations, and for those with connections that can help the agency find the best price of the needed equipment.
“Everyone has been so nice. People are holding fundraisers and making donations,” she said.
One of those fundraisers will be on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Stampede Ft. Worth, located at 621 Hemphill St. in Fort Worth. A notice circulated by the Fort Worth chapter of TGRA, which is organizing the event, said at least $3,500 is needed to buy one freezer, and that an earlier show staged by the Imperial Court de Ft. Worth/Arlington raised $1,500 for AIDS Outreach Center’s freezer fund.
The nutrition center can always use help in plenty of areas, Austin said.
“There are a lot of ways that people can help. A lot of times, people don’t realize that they are part of a company or an organization that can help through matching donations and grants,” she said. “People can donate the kind of non-perishable food items we need on a regular basis. They can volunteer to help out by picking up donated foods or stocking the food pantry shelves or helping clients shop.”
Austin said AIDS Outreach is now in its 21st year, and that the nutrition center has been around for at least 15 of those years. It provides food to supplement meals for clients who qualify based on federally mandated guidelines.
The food pantry currently has more than 800 clients who can shop there on a weekly or biweekly schedule, Austin said.
She said the nutrition center is in the process of moving to an “all medical model” to meet federal requirements. The new model, Austin explained, will provide specialized menus recommended by a registered dietitian for clients with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, in addition to HIV.
“We will be phasing that new model in over the next four or five months, and it will make our services even better,” she said. “The nutrition center is a very important part of our agency, a very valuable resource for our clients. And we appreciate everyone who helps us make it even better.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 19, 2007