Houston, Revisited: Thrive Market Checks In After Hurricane Harvey

May 31, 2018

When Hurricane Harvey landed in Houston last fall, Thrive Market quickly partnered with the Houston Food Bank (HFB) and sent a truck filled with emergency supplies like baby diapers and nonperishable food. We also raised money with your help and made a donation to help with relief efforts.

Hurricane Harvey might not be making headlines anymore, but plenty of people are still struggling to make ends meet, so last week we followed up with another $15,000 product donation. A massive thank you to our members, whose generosity is helping us provide both the emergency and ongoing aid for families in Houston.

Houston Food Bank

Houston: Current Status

In the two months following Harvey, the Houston Food Bank distributed three times its usual output of food, cleaning supplies, and other products, totaling 45 million pounds. HFB partnered with the Backpack Buddy Program to provide more than 35,000 food sacks to kids in 213 local schools, and supported teachers, too, by distributing almost 600,000 pounds of school supplies to more than 8,000 teachers.

We spoke with Marly Maskill from the HFB to find out more about the recovery efforts.

Where’s the city of Houston now in terms of recovery, and what are the biggest challenges you’re facing?

It’s been nine months since Hurricane Harvey impacted Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast. Some would say that life has “gone on,” but for tens to hundreds of thousands of Texans, the long-term effects of the storm are still being felt. There’s still increased need, about 50% over normal distribution rates.

Can you give us an idea of the scope of damage Houston experienced?

Much research and analysis has been done to try and give a clear picture of the storms’ impact and lasting effect. Although it’s difficult to define, here are some results from the most prominent local surveys.

Three months after the storm, a 24-county survey was conducted by Episcopal Health Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation and found that 66 percent of Houston residents said they suffered property damage or income loss as a result of the storm, and half of those weren’t getting the assistance that they needed.

According to a more recent needs assessment by Kinder Institute for Urban Research on behalf of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, detailed damage assessments estimate that nearly 20 percent of Harris County residents (or roughly 307,000 households) were affected by Hurricane Harvey, meaning their homes suffered some form of damage during the storm. Fifteen percent reported major damage, and 23 percent reported minor damage.

Finally, a multi-county survey on affected individuals conducted by Episcopal Health Foundation focused on lower-income, black and Hispanic residents as well as those living in areas identified by FEMA as having the most damage.

Houston Food Bank

What are your current challenges? Are you getting enough donations? Are people sending what you need most?

HFB continues to receive a significant amount of donations after Harvey, and we’ve been able to match all of the donations with appropriate agencies. FEMA and other donors have provided us with a significant amount of food products. We are in need of personal care items and household cleaning items. Additionally, we are always looking for healthy and nutritious items, such as fresh produce.

Is there anything you wish people knew before donating to the food bank or signing up to volunteer?

Every bit of support has great impact. With our resources, $10 donated can help provide 30 meals, and every minute donated to volunteering helps produce one meal.

Food Bank 6 (1)

What to Donate

Thinking about making a donation? Here are the HFB’s most-needed items—retail or travel sizes are preferred!

Non-Food Items

Food Items

Canned Protein:

Canned Fruit:

  • Peaches
  • Mixed Fruit
  • Pears


Houston Food Bank

How Thrive Market Is Helping Houston Recovery Efforts

Our Spread the Health Program enables us to continue supporting Americans in need throughout the year—not just when disaster strikes. That’s why on May 25, 2018, we sent more trucks to the HFB totaling $15,000 worth of products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand soap, dried pasta, beans, and more to help families in Houston. Many items will be distributed through the local school systems, and we can’t thank our wonderful Thrive Market members enough for helping make these gifts possible!

Click here to learn more about Thrive Gives and Spread the Health.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.


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