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RCE North Texas Dallas Federal Reserve 
Meeting Summary

1.    FED Intro/FED Sustainability
RCE members were hosted in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, one of the collaborators that participated and contributed to the approval of the RCE in the North Texas. RCE member and Dallas Fed Assistant VP and 11th District Sustainability Officer, Dex Beyene, welcomed the group, discussed the Bank’s sustainability initiative and followed by brief comments from Stephen Clayton, Community Engagement Manager, at the Dallas Fed. Here a link to about the Dallas Fed.   (

Clayton discussed how the Dallas Fed is one of 12 regional reserve banks in the country, who along with the Board of Governors in D.C. makes up the Federal Reserve System, the central bank of the U.S. responsible for bringing the national economic goals of the country to fruition. 
Each of the 12 regional reserve banks is a private, not-for-profit, self-sufficient institution. Additionally, they make sure that local banking is fair and equitable in access and in opportunity by employing community affairs examiners that investigate the process. 

Moreover, they discussed the Dallas Fed and EPA’s Green Power Partnership, which powers its offices entirely with Texas wind energy. The Dallas Fed and its Branches in Houston, San Antonio and El Paso are using more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of Texas wind power annually, which represents 100% of its total electric power needs. To quote Meredith Black, Dallas Fed COO, “As the nation’s central bank, we have the responsibility to set an example. It’s the right thing and the smart thing to do for ourselves now and for the community in the future,” she said in a press release in April. The Dallas Fed’s green power use of more than 38 million kWh is equivalent to the annual electricity use of nearly 4,000 average American homes, according to the EPA. “Through this partnership, the Dallas Fed is advancing the voluntary market for green power and growing sources of clean energy,” said Dex Beyene.

2.    Dr. Adrian Parr
Dr. Adrian Parr, Dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at UT Arlington and a UNESCO Chair of Water and Human Settlements spoke about her research that includes her most recent trilogy: ‘Birth of A New Earth’, ‘The Wrath of Capital: Neo liberalism and Climate Change Politics’, and ‘Hijacking Sustainability’. She also discussed her career as a producer, writer, and director of the documentary, The Intimate Realities of Water, with Sean Hughes, which examines the power relations and water struggles structuring everyday life in slums. The film was screened at the COP 21 climate talks before going onto win 13 awards at independent film festivals across the US.

3.    Marti Cockrell
Marti Cockrell, Coordinator for the Global Elementary Model United Nations (GEMUN), spoke about how she started the model UN for Elementary and Middle School students, which has grown from the participation of 45 delegates the first year to almost 9,000 delegates over the 30 years. A hands-on approach to learning in a global context, GEMUN. By role-playing delegates to the United Nations, young people from varied backgrounds learn about other countries, cultures and international relationships, while developing a global perspective on real issues confronting the world, while acquiring transferable skills to their communities. 

4.    Youth Network Update
Professionals and students attended the RCE North Texas meeting to discuss the sustainable development goals in our region. Presentations featured university professors focused on urban watershed research, students focused on implementing sustainable development goals, professionals from local business focused on adopting sustainable development goals in corporate values, and leaders from non-profit organizations addressing community sustainability needs through education and service support initiatives.

5.    Facility Tour
The Federal Reserve System is responsible for placing paper bills into circulation. This happens via 28 cash offices—from Boston to Dallas to San Francisco. Just as the Fed is responsible for placing cash into circulation, it takes unfit currency out of circulation. The group was led on a guided tour of the facility to see how old and worn out notes are shredded and removed from circulation. 
Leadership Fort Worth, Forum Learning Lunch
‘Sharing One Planet: Trending Topics in Sustainability and the Environment’
Trinity Room inside CERA Gym Facility
3300 Bryant Irvin Rd., Fort Worth, TX 76109
February 20, 2020 | 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

•    Cody Whittenburg, Panel Host, Environmental Manager, City of Fort Worth
•    Rebecca Butler, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, Coca-Cola North America
•    Tamara Cook, Senior Program Manager, North Central Texas Council of Governments
•    Heather Frost, VP Environmental Affairs, DFW Airport
•    Meghna Tare, Chief Sustainability Officer, UTA

RCE members recently spoke at the Leadership Fort Worth forum, ‘Sharing One Planet: Trending Topics in Sustainability and the Environment’. Topics included sustainable development, recycling, energy, air quality, watershed conservation, and litter prevention. Each panelist discussed what sustainability means to them, their stakeholders, and the organizations and communities they represent. 

RCE member and Senior Program Manager at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Tamara Cook talked about the many challenges we face as the fastest growing region in the country. Megnha Tare, Chief Sustainability Officer at UT Arlington and founding member of RCE, spoke about how the organization was launched, sponsored by United Nations University to work toward the advancement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the U.N. to help with regional impacts needed to work toward the education for sustainable development (ESD). Moreover, how our 70 to 80 stakeholders in are working together on three specific SDG’s in the North Texas region; Good Health and Well Being, Quality Education, and Sustainable Cities and Communities. Each panelist pointed out the importance of not only education but also programming and partnerships. 

Cody Whittenburg, Panel Host and Environmental Manager for the City of Fort Worth said that as a representative of a city, he thinks of sustainability in terms of how environmental systems help communities function better and ensure quality of life, mentioning city programs like the recently launched composting pilot program, a Styrofoam recycling initiative, and the Cowtown Cleanup. 
The Dallas Fort Worth airport recently became the largest airport in the world and the first in North America to become a carbon neutral airport. Heather Frost, VP of Environmental Affairs at DFW Airport and Rebecca Butler, Director of Public Affairs & Communications at Coca Cola North America spoke about their partnership initiative to audit plastic waste in the recycling stream at the airport, and their goal of 10% diversion, to zero waste in 10 years. On a larger scale, Rebecca mentioned that Coca Cola has partnered with competitors like Dr Pepper and Pepsi on a bottle recycling initiative called ‘Every Bottle Back’. This is in addition to their global mission, ‘World without Waste’ that invests in programs globally, something equivalent to $1.9 billion. 

Furthermore, Tamara discussed the regional city waste audit performed in collaboration with 10 cities to establish the contamination rate of recycling bins in those cities, then extrapolate that data to find the rate for the region. The study found that 24% of what is going in recycling bins is not recyclable, which is an extra cost to the cities to transport to landfills. The value of the materials they found, was a staggering $122 million in just one week. These programs and partnerships: municipal, private and non-profit, along with the many other initiatives are vital to the sustainability of our region. And serve to not only better the quality of life for our citizens in this region but can hopefully serve as best practices to influence other regions and make significant differences around the world.  
Tarrant Area Food Bank Op-ed
Hunger: a personal, physical sensation of discomfort
Food Insecurity: a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level

A lot has changed in the 22 years I have been working for Tarrant Area Food Bank.  On one of my early walkthroughs of the warehouse, I saw pallets of marshmallow cream; delicious, makes great fudge but nutritious?  Not so much.  Today, 87% of the estimated 40 million pounds of food we distribute are nutritious.  Thirty percent of our distribution consists of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It was also commonly thought throughout the food banking network that we could end hunger at least on a day to day basis by channeling enough surplus food into our communities.  It was just a matter of logistics.  Goals were set; if we could achieve this number of pounds, we could reduce hunger by a given percent.

Food banks met the poundage goals, yet hunger went up by a large margin.  What impact were we making?  A number of studies and research efforts showed that households were having to choose between food and rent; between food and medicine; between food and utilities….
This blasted a big hole in the assumption that we can end hunger by filling a meal gap because the meal gap continually flexes to cover other needs.  Many people are forced to adjust their food budgets to accommodate other expenses.  Filling one gap is an exercise in vain as that gap is tied to all the others.

This flexibility in food spending has other implications.  Early on we were in the calorie business; any calories are good calories if you are hungry.  Then came the data. It was revealed that food insecure people have a significantly higher rate of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, or myriad other symptoms of poor health, malnutrition and obesity.  There are several reasons for this. One is that maintaining poor nutrition turns out to be a lot cheaper than maintaining good nutrition. Another is the existence of food deserts where there is an insufficient presence of grocery stores providing healthy choices.

This is where the distinction between hunger and food insecurity becomes crucial.  We used to think of our challenge as solving hunger; we now know that malnutrition due to food insecurity is a much larger problem.  We also know that food insecurity is not an isolated issue. We are fighting an income gap as households struggle to juggle expenses greater than their income.
Just how big is this gap?  Federal poverty guidelines would suggest that 12% of Tarrant County households fall below the poverty level.  These same federal guidelines apply equally to all counties within the United States except Alaska and Hawaii.  While we know food insecurity is closely related to poverty, it is not the only indicator.  

•    ASSET

ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county.

Using this threshold, an additional 25% of households in Tarrant County are below the income level needed to maintain basic expenses unique to Tarrant County.
The impact of this is that 37%, or approximately 260,000 households in Tarrant County, struggle to meet basic expenses. Families are affected by multiple overlapping issues:

•    Affordable housing
•    Increases in the cost of living
•    Lack of reliable transportation
•    Social isolation
•    Health problems
•    Medical costs
•    Low wages
•    Education level

Many food banks are starting to address food insecurity through activities and programs in addition to food distribution and increasingly this work is being featured in strategic plans.  Many are engaging in activities related to earned income and financial security, cultivating partnerships with organizations that build job strengths and financial literacy.

The Tarrant County Food Policy Council came together to catalyze creative solutions for ensuring equitable access to food and to advocate for local food policies that support this goal. Current priorities include supporting local gardeners, farmers, ranchers and small-scale producers, mobilizing the community to reduce the waste of wholesome food, and improving healthy options for kids when dining out.

Much has been learned in the past decades. We continue to learn and to adapt as we press forward. Some people will always need the help of food banks and pantries because of overwhelming obstacles in their lives. We will be there for them as we move forward in our expanded mission of leading the fight to end hunger.
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