a teenage volunteer at a Houston food bank

Project Spotlight

Project Spotlight: La Tiendita

More than 4.6 million Texans — or nearly 1 in 6 households — experience food insecurity. This Red Nose Day program is making a difference for families in the Houston community

November 14, 2023

More than 4.6 million Texans — or nearly 1 in 6 households — experience food insecurity. This Red Nose Day program is making a difference for families in the Houston community

Jesus R. did not need the USDA to tell him that Texas has a problem with food insecurity. 

The Houston high school senior, 17, volunteers at La Tiendita, a very special market in southeast Houston where families can stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and bread. The best part? It’s all free. “When I’m working, it’s mostly moms coming in with their kids,” Jesus says. “We set you up with a basket that includes everything we have — it can be filled with two or three bags of grapes, sometimes bananas, beans, chicken, and granola bars. We try to give as much as we can to help out.” 

Basically, everything a mom who struggles to afford enough food would want to have in the kitchen to feed her family. This month that will include staples for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Jesus says what he loves most about his work is seeing how happy La Tiendita makes families in his community feel. “I meet different kinds of people, and I see where they come from. I understand it's hard because I've been in that place before. It's really hard for people to not have enough money for food.”

La Tiendita, Spanish for Little Market, is run by Houston’s Tejano Center for Community Concerns, which provides social, health, educational, economic, and housing programs and resources for the local community, including health education classes to help families shop for and cook healthy meals.

In addition to addressing food insecurity, the organization is focused on supporting young people like Jesus to be their own advocates and lead change in their communities. 

The work is especially needed right now —  last year, Texas had the second-highest rate of food insecurity, at 15.5% of the population, more than 4% higher than the US average. More than 4.6 million Texans are at risk for hunger – meaning nearly one in six households experience food insecurity. 

Jesus was first introduced to the Tejano Center when he was young, and his own family sometimes needed a helping hand. “We would come when we needed them. They would help us because sometimes we wouldn't have as much food on the table.” 

Times are better now for Jesus and his family, and he enjoys giving back. “I stock the shelves, and I help load the people's carts when they come in. I remember one lady came with her son when I was there, and I was overhearing that they couldn't provide as much food at home and times were just rough for them. They had to walk to get to us, and it just broke me because I just felt bad. And when we gave the food package to them, I remember she started crying a little bit, and she was so happy and just thanked all of us for what we were doing.”

La Tiendita is an inspiring example of a Red Nose Day program that both helps people in immediate need and works towards eliminating the causes of food insecurity for children and their families. 

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Red Nose Day

Red Nose Day in School is a free educational program designed to teach young students about the impacts of poverty on children, foster empathy building, and celebrate acts of kindness in the classroom and beyond. This year-round program includes lesson plans, routines and videos to help students practice core reading and writing skills while also helping them realize their power to make a difference for others. Learn more.