Culture Influencer: Marie Mater

Dr. Marie Mater, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Speech Communication in the Department of English, Communication, Great Texts, and Modern Languages, led 6 public speaking seminars at the Houston Food Bank on March 11, 18, and 25.

The 3-hour community service training programs were designed to improve the presentational skills of more than 60 Houston Food Bank managers and staff in the Community Outreach, Culinary Services, Distribution, Donor Services, Human Resources, Partner Services, Procurement, Transportation and Warehouse departments.

The focus of the public speaking seminars was to enable management and staff to communicate the Houston Food Bank’s mission and core messages more effectively. The Houston Food Bank’s mission is “Food for better lives.” Their core messages are:

1. Food insecurity exists in our communities.
2. In addition to distributing food, we provide services and connections to programs that address root causes of food insecurity with the ultimate goal of reducing the need for assistance.
3. We rely on the generosity of the community for donations of food, money and volunteer time.
4. In collaboration with our community, we advocate for policy change and encourage dialogue on ways to reduce poverty and improve the lives of those we serve.
5. Everything we do in our jobs advances food for better lives and we perform our job duties with food bank values – Purpose, Accountability, Courage, Transparency – to get to a world that doesn’t need food banks.

As the largest food bank distributor in the United States, the Houston Food Bank worked with 1800 community partners (such as food pantries, soup kitchens, social service providers and schools) in 18 southeast Texas counties to provide 207 million nutritious meals in Fiscal Year 2021. In addition to distributing food to fuel a healthy life, the Houston Food Bank provides programs and services aimed at helping families achieve long-term stability including nutrition education, job training, health management and help in securing state-funded assistance.