How One Organization Tackles the Logistics of Disaster Donations

This nonprofit is stepping up to shoulder the burden of making sure donations get where they need to go.

By Alain StephensMay 15, 2015 7:33 am

Wastewater, missing pets and debris filled roads  – these are some of the problems faced by emergency managers as they attempt to respond to natural disasters across the state. Another problem on the list is donations. After every highly televised disaster, city and state officials, along with nonprofits, are inundated with donations from around the country. The results can often become a logistical nightmare. Gary Webb is a professor of emergency management at the University of North Texas in Denton.

“One of the major challenges that we confront in every single disaster is what’s known as the problem of convergence– that is tons of supplies and donated items all arriving on the scene,” Webb says. “And while all of that is certainly well intentioned, it can actually become a problem because those on scene have additional issues they have to manage and deal with.”

But in the shadow of Texas’s most recent run-in with storms, a different approach is being taken. Feeding Texas is an organization whose job is to shoulder the logistical burden of receiving and disseminating donations. Celia Cole is the chief executive officer of Feeding Texas.

“So, the role of Feeding Texas is to coordinate the efforts of our 21 member food banks when it comes to disasters,” Cole says. “It’s really a matter of coordination and logistics and getting the food that people need out to them as quickly as possible, in a way that they can access it.”

Cole says that while food is a focal point for many of disaster relief donations, it often overshadows the need for other necessities. And if you’re looking to give, Cole has one very simple suggestion.

“The best thing people can do is make a monetary contribution,” Cole says. “We can then turn around and very quickly leverage that to acquire the things that are needed to respond to that particular disaster.”

Feeding Texas is taking donations to help with disaster relief from Texas’ tornadoes.