Reckless Kelly, Wrestle Circus donating proceeds of upcoming events to Hurricane Harvey relief

The Hurricane Harvey benefit events are rolling in, but two previously scheduled upcoming events are now donating all their proceeds to relief efforts.

The Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam is on Sept. 10 this year, and they’ve decided to turn it into a Hurricane Harvey fundraiser. Contributed by the Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam

The Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam has raised more than $350,000 in the past eight years for local youth sports and music charities, but this year, all the proceeds from the event on Sept. 10 will go to charities benefiting Hurricane Harvey victims, the organizers announced today. They are still picking the charities, but the Nolan Ryan Foundation will collect the proceeds from the event and then distribute it to areas where need is the highest. For details about the event, including the music lineup for the concert in the outfield or which local food writer or World Series winner will be playing in the game, go to rkcsj.org.

Colt Cabana, a wrestler based in Chicago, is a popular figure on the indie wrestling circuit. He wrestles often in Texas with promotions including Wrestle Circus. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Wrestle Circus, which is quickly becoming the biggest indie wrestling promotion in the state, announced a few days ago that their Sept. 9 show at the Travis County Expo Center would become a benefit for Hurricane Harvey relief, with all proceeds going to charities, including merch sales. You can buy tickets for the event and find out about the upcoming matches on wrestlecircus.com. Can’t attend the show? You can livestream the show for free and make a donation to the cause via Twitch.

 

 

 

 

Some good Harvey news: Houston ISD students can get 3 free meals per day this school year

The only good thing about a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy is the once-in-a-lifetime goodness of people pours out.

Students in Houston can apply to receive three free meals a day this school year. This is one of the lunches served in the Austin district. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Here’s some once-in-a-lifetime goodness that popped up today: In a state that is reluctant to support students who rely on free and reduced lunch, Houston ISD is now set to offer every student three free meals a day this school year. That’s millions of dollars of support for public schools that, in previous years, have been asking for more federal support for students in need in the form of free breakfast in the classroom, expanded reduced lunch and improved quality of ingredients.

RELATED: After $10,000 in donations, all of Austin ISD’s school lunch debt is paid off (for now)

Should public schools outsource lunches to private companies?

Each morning, AISD serves a free breakfast to thousands of students throughout the city. In Houston, every student will be eligible for three free meals a day for the coming school year after Hurricane Harvey. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston school district, which has more than 210,000 students, received approval on Wednesday from the Texas Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to let students apply for a waiver that could cover the cost of all three meals that a school serves each day. (Many schools offer a third meal for after-school programs, including tutoring and athletics.)

Austin ISD serves about 80,000 meals a day, but Houston’s largest school district has more than 210,000 students, all of whom can receive additional free meals this year as the city recovers from Hurricane Harvey. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Families still have to apply for this waiver (click here for an application), but this news means that tens of thousands of parents can focus on putting their homes and lives back together with one less thing to worry about.

The politics of school lunch have subsided in the face of disaster, but Houston is about to become the largest free school breakfast and lunch test case in the country. We’ll get to see what happens when students get fed during the day, no matter how much money their parents make.

 

 

Texans always love H-E-B, but especially after Hurricane Harvey

(Photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman)

During this whirlwind of a storm that just won’t seem to stop, H-E-B has emerged at the forefront of the relief efforts, delivering literal tons of supplies to the battered cities along the coast and feeding thousands of evacuees at shelters around the state.

The social media love for this San Antonio-based grocer has been strong, with hundreds of people tweeting and sharing memes on Facebook about H-E-B coming to Texans’ rescue when they need them most.

Even CEO Charles Butt — the subject of this Dallas Morning News piece, “Why can’t we have more billionaires like Texas grocery magnate Charles Butt?” in July, just weeks before Harvey — has even been sitting in on the emergency preparedness meetings.

So far, they’ve donated more than $1 million in disaster relief in the forms of free meals, food bank donations and financial commitments.

Here’s a breakdown, by the numbers, of some of that assistance:

  • 72,240: Cases of water distributed so far (43 truckloads)
  • 56,000: Bags of ice distributed so far (15 truck loads)
  • 2: Helicopters used to fly in logistics experts to stranded warehouse facilities to help them reopen
  • 15: Shelters in Central Texas alone are receiving supplies from H-E-B
  • 2,500: Meals per hour that H-E-B can serve from its 45-foot-long mobile kitchens
  • 4,500: Meals Central Market served this week to shelters in Dallas
  • 100: H-E-B partners who volunteered at the San Antonio food bank last weekend

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MORE: Royal Fig, GelPro, Springdale Farm rally donation efforts for Hurricane Harvey victims

Hurricane Harvey will disrupt Gulf seafood delivery to Central Texas restaurants and markets

If you want to find out the latest on H-E-B’s disaster efforts, as well as store closures and where to find assistance if you need it, follow @HEBprepared on Twitter or follow their Facebook page.

Here are some of our favorite H-E-B love tweets from the past few days:

https://twitter.com/JoelleColleen/status/902676921980522496

 

 

 

 

Why Bastrop County farmers started a relief program to lend tools, labor after disasters like Hurricane Harvey

Amid all the bad news this week, I was relieved to hear that local farmers aren’t doing as badly as you might expect after such a major storm.

For one, they didn’t have most of their fall crops in the ground yet, so this storm will delay their season but not wipe it out completely. Second, the rain and winds weren’t as damaging as some other storms we’ve had in recent years, including one that caused $130,000 in destruction at Tecolote Farm or the one that nearly wiped out Dewberry Hills Farm.

Farm-1-1 is a nonprofit organization based in Cedar Creek that connects farmers throughout Central Texas who need a hand or equipment to fix something on their property. Founders Vivian and JoAnn Smotherman have been farming for a decade and know that it’s too much work for one person or even a couple to handle on their own. Contributed by Farm-1-1.

Farm-1-1 is a farmer assistance program based near Cedar Creek in Bastrop County that started two years ago after flooding left many area farmers with downed fences and wind-torn buildings. Directors (and farmers) Vivian and JoAnn Smotherman have since organized a network of farmers to help one another when emergencies like this strike.

Although they haven’t had any major calls in the past few days, they expect to hear from farmers later this week, after they’ve had a chance to survey the damage and make a priority list. “Farms suffer greatly during these kinds of tragedies,” Vivian Smotherman says. “When you’re talking about a herd of cattle or goats and losing your fencing or your entire crops got flooded, this can be just as devastating.”

RELATED: Farmers report soggy fields, loose pigs after Hurricane Harvey storms

Royal Fig, GelPro, Springdale Farm rally donation efforts for Hurricane Harvey victims

When Farm-1-1 gets a call from a rural landowner who could use a hand, they activate their network to find farmers with equipment and labor to lend. “New farmers sink way too much money into equipment,” she says. “We try to catch people before they get so far into debt. You don’t have to go buy a tiller or a brushhog or a post-hole digger that you’ll use once. Call us up and we’ll get one over to you. Pooling equipment reduces costs throughout the community.”

On Tuesday morning, Farm-1-1 put out a call on Facebook for farmers who might need a hand after the recent Hurricane Harvey storms.

The Smothermans have been farming for about 10 years, and the only evidence of the weekend’s storms are a bunch of muddy pigs that are happy for the wet earth. In the two years since they started Farm-1-1, they’ve helped 40 to 50 farms in some way or another, and they are always accepting donations to help run and grow the program. They even run a farmer thrift store to help people sell and buy equipment.

If you want to learn more about Farm-1-1 or to inquire about getting assistance or how you can help lend a hand, go to farm-1-1.org.

Other local farmer assistance programs include Texas Farmers Market’s emergency relief fund, and the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has a comprehensive list of other disaster funds for farmers and ranchers.

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Royal Fig, GelPro, Springdale Farm rally donation efforts for Hurricane Harvey victims

The food community is turning out in droves to help our friends in Houston and along the coast after Hurricane Harvey. Matthew Odam has compiled a great list of restaurants and bars that are raising money, and here are a few more food-related fundraisers and donation sites.

Royal Fig Catering loaded up a truck and sent it to Victoria on Monday. They’ll be doing the same for Houston later this week. Contributed by Royal Fig.
  • Whole Foods Market and Amazon are matching $1 million in donations to the Red Cross via Amazon’s online giving page. The Austin-area Whole Foods stores will be collecting for the Red Cross via donations at the registers.
  • H-E-B continues to take donations at its registers for hurricane relief.
  • Royal Fig Catering, one of Austin’s biggest catering companies, devised a whirlwind relief effort Sunday night to raise money to purchase supplies needed to cook hot meals for as many coastal residents as they could. Several of their vendors also donated food, which enabled the company to head to Victoria on Monday. Another trip to cook meals for a Houston children’s hospital is in the works, according to owner Kristin Stacy.
  • Lick Honest Ice Creams is donating 100 percent of proceeds from Texas Sheet Cake pints sold at all of their shops to the American Red Cross through the end of September.
  • Austin Community College’s culinary department is kicking off the new semester by cooking food for one of the local shelters.
  • Farmhouse Delivery is donating meals to relief shelters and collecting money for farmers who need a hand.
  • GelPro is donating 100 percent of sales of its Texas mat to relief efforts.
  • Springdale Farm is donating 100 percent of proceeds from Wednesday’s farm stand, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 755 Springdale Road, to Austin Disaster Relief Network. You can also drop-off donations for ADRN at the farm stand until noon.
  • SugarMama’s Bakeshop is hosting a drive for baby formula and pet food today (Tuesday).
  • Austin Bakes has set up an Austin Bakes for Harvey citywide bake sale for Sept. 16. Bakers can sign up now to provide baked goods and volunteer for the sale, which will raise money for Americares.
Last fall, Austin Bakes raised more than $2,000 for relief efforts in Haiti. The citywide bake sale will return on Sept. 16 to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims. Contributed by Austin Bakes.

RELATED: Farmers report soggy fields, loose pigs after Hurricane Harvey storms

Hurricane Harvey will disrupt Gulf seafood delivery to Central Texas restaurants and markets

Complete Hurricane Harvey coverage from the Austin American-Statesman

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Farmers report soggy fields, loose pigs after Hurricane Harvey storms

The swollen Colorado River might be lined by farms and ranches, but most farms in the Austin area escaped great damage from Hurricane Harvey over the weekend.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the effects, however.

The floodwaters near Green Gate Farms receded before they did any permanent damage to the crops or infrastructure on the properties in East Austin and farther east in Bastrop County. Contributed by Green Gate Farms

Johnson’s Backyard Garden lost $25,000 in farmers market sales over the week because the markets in Austin and Houston were closed, owner Brenton Johnson says, and they also couldn’t deliver CSA boxes to customers in those cities. The good news is that their fields didn’t flood as badly as they have in previous storms, and they didn’t suffer any infrastructure damage due to high winds, he said.

PHOTOS: Harvey hits Houston with historic flooding

RELATED: Austin groups rally to support Harvey victims

Like many farms in the area, Johnson’s staff are in the middle of cleaning out the summer crops and planting the fall ones, and after seeing the weather forecast last week, Johnson delayed putting fall plants in the ground. Now they’ll have to wait a few weeks to plant so the fields can dry, putting them about three weeks behind schedule, he says.

“We are right in the beginning of a major planting season, so our greenhouses are busting at the seams,” Johnson says. “We have to wait another week for the fields to dry out, so we’re concerned about some of the plants getting too old and won’t be top quality, but it could have been worse.”

High winds and rain caused this roof at Green Gate Farms to partially collapse over the weekend. Contributed by Green Gate Farms

 

At Green Gate Farms, high winds caused the roof on a shed to nearly collapse, and one of the big pigs escaped through a broken fence. Farmer Skip Connett said that the domino effect will hurt them the most.

“For instance, we were racing to get a hoop house completed at our Bastrop farm so we could get reimbursed by Natural Resources Conservation Service. That’s not likely to happen on time, which means bills won’t get paid. The biggest concern, though is losing planting time for our fall season. Now that we can’t plant and fields must be repaired, it’s likely the season will be delayed.”

She said the best way to help would be for customers to sign up for their fall CSA now so that they’ll have the money to make repairs around the farm before the season starts.

Boggy Creek Farm didn’t suffer any major losses from the weekend’s Hurricane Harvey storms. The owners even opened their farm stand on Saturday, where 39 customers came by. Contributed by Boggy Creek Farm

 

Sue Beckwith, executive director of Texas Center for Local Food, said farmers who planted before the rain might have lost some crops, but the damage locally wasn’t nearly as bad as had been expected.

The organization is setting up a relief fund for farmers, especially those closer to Houston, who come forward later this week with emergency needs. “The alluvial soil along the Colorado River is so good for growing, but if you’re half a mile from the river bank, most years, you’re going to be fine,” she says. “For some farmers, this isn’t one of them.”

Here are some reports from other local farms:

  • Boggy Creek Farm in East Austin opened its farm stand amid the rain on Saturday morning, and Carol Ann Sayle reported that 39 customers came by. Even though their farm is near Boggy Creek, their fields did not flood. Some of the tarps flew off, but the plans underneath were fine, for the most part.
  • Max Elliott at Urban Roots said that even though they got more than 10 inches of rain over several days and lost a few trees, they didn’t have any major damage to buildings or equipment.
  • Springdale Farm is donating 100 percent of proceeds from Wednesday’s farm stand, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 755 Springdale Road, to Austin Disaster Relief Network. You can also drop-off donations for ADRN at the farm stand until noon.
  • Texas Farmers Market has an emergency relief fund that they use to help local growers facing medical- and weather-related emergencies. You can click here to donate.

MORE: Hurricane Harvey: Be careful, protect against illness as you clean up

Hurricane Harvey: Austin Diaper Bank wants your diapers to help

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Are prices really down at Whole Foods after Amazon takeover?

The Amazon/Whole Foods deal is closing today, and the retail giant didn’t spare a second to tackle the Austin-bred grocer’s biggest hurdle with customers: Prices.

On Friday, Amazon announced it would be lowering the cost of some goods in all of its stores, so I swept through the downtown location — with a pen in hand — to see exactly how much these prices would be dropping.

Starting Monday, Whole Foods shoppers will start to notice evidence of the Amazon sale, either in the form of lower prices on some items or this table, where you can pick up an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I recorded the prices on about 45 items, from frozen pizzas and LaCroix to salmon and organic raspberries, on Friday, and by Monday morning, 11 of those items dropped in price over the weekend.

RELATED: Timeline of merger deal between Whole Foods, Amazon

Experts: Whole Foods-Amazon deal has positives, negatives for Austin

Whole Foods executives set to make millions after deal with Amazon closes 

That means a lot of the goods — milk, orange juice, butter sparkling water (Topo Chico and LaCroix), tomatoes, sliced cheese, cauliflower, frozen pizza, chicken breasts, Dave’s Killer Bread, Noosa yogurt, Siete tortilla chips — stayed the same price.

The cost of avocados at Whole Foods is down, but not heirloom tomatoes. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The products that changed in price were:

Coho salmon: From $19.99/lb. to $16.99/lb.
Pint of conventional blueberries: From $4.99 to $3.99
Organic Hass avocado: From $2.69 to $1.99
365 organic lettuce mix: From $3.99 to $3.49
In-house baked rustic country French bread: From $4.99 to $4.79
365 organic extra-large eggs: From $5.69 to $4.19
Conventional 85/15 ground beef: From $5.99 to $4.99
Organic 85/15 ground beef: From $9.99 to $7.99
365 organic canned coconut milk: From $2.29 to $1.99
365 organic Italian pasta sauce: From $2.99 to $2.79
Fara coffee: $9.99 to $7.99

Many products around the store have dropped between 20 and 50 cents, but not every item has a lower price today than it did on Friday. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Prices on dozens, if not hundreds, of items dropped ranged from 20 and 50 cents per item, but not all products in each section dropped. The only item I checked that went up was the cost of sliced organic colby jack cheese, which went up from $6.99 to $7.39 per package.

When I stepped outside my food writer brain and into my everyday shopper brain, I realized that I definitely could use some $1.99/lb. organic Fuji apples, which were only 30 cents more expensive than the conventional Fujis and far less than I’ve seen at other grocers in Austin. I also grabbed a 99 cent bunch of kale, which is the same price at H-E-B.

I could have also picked up a “Farm Fresh” Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for $99.99 or $44.99, which is exactly what they cost online.

Signs around Whole Foods downtown indicate which prices have been dropped since the Amazon/Whole Foods deal went through on Monday. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

We haven’t yet seen any additional discounts for Amazon Prime members, but everyday shoppers will definitely notice cheaper prices at Whole Foods starting this week. How long those prices will last, what discounts and shopping experience they’ll give shoppers who request delivery and how they’ll use shopping data remain to be seen.

I’m not the only food writer who has been comparing Whole Foods prices today. Business Insider shopped for 15 items on Friday and Monday and found that the total dropped 23 percent, but that will not be your experience unless you only shop the products that had dropped dramatically. As we saw with the sliced cheese, the store might end up absorbing some of those discounts by raising prices in other areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready-to-drink Soylent hits Austin stores (no, it’s not people)

Meal replacement drinks have been around forever, but it wasn’t until Rob Rhinehart’s Soylent debuted in 2013 that they became cool.

Soylent originated as a powdered drink you would order online and then mix at home. Many, many people experimented with eating only Soylent for weeks or months at a time, if only for the hilarious blog posts.

RELATED: In quest for efficiency, Soylent challenges notion of ‘food’

Soylent is experimenting with a new retail partnership with about two dozen Austin-area 7-Eleven stores. Contributed by Soylent

A few years ago, Soylent started selling a liquid, ready-to-drink version online, which I didn’t love, but I also didn’t hate either.

That bottled Soylent must be selling pretty well because the company is now testing retail sales in Los Angeles and, starting this week, Austin.

About 24 7-Eleven stores in the Austin area are now selling ready-to-drink Soylent. Contributed by Soylent

Two dozen 7- Eleven locations in the Austin area are now selling four flavors of Soylent: Original, Cacao, Cafe Coffiest and the new Cafe Chai. Each drink is designed to provide the vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and protein that the body needs. They cost $3.99 per bottle.

RELATED: How does Hopdoddy’s new ‘bleeding’ vegan burger from Impossible Foods taste?

 

Rainy day recipes to get you through Hurricane Harvey’s deluge

It’s gonna be a long, wet weekend.

I’ve already told you what to do today to get ready *just* in case the power goes out for more than a few hours.

Hopefully, you’ll have plenty of power and water this weekend, so your only question won’t be *if* you can cook, but *what* to cook.

My sister makes what I call the world’s best chocolate chip cookies? Don’t believe me? Make them for yourself this rainy weekend and tell me if you have a better recipe. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

These pina colada muffins would be a good treat to have on hand during a hurricane weekend. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

RELATED:

Texans share pictures of stockpiles, empty shelves ahead of Hurricane Harvey
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10 things to do indoors with kids this rainy weekend
Hurricane Harvey prep plan: Stuck inside? Here’s what to order from Uber Eats
Hurricane Harvey plan: Here’s what to order at the Alamo Drafthouse
Traveling this weekend and worried about Harvey? What you need to know
Want to see Harvey for yourself? Here are 8 Texas webcams to watch

13 ways to entertain yourself if your power goes out this weekend

Austin farmers markets canceled this weekend ahead of Hurricane Harvey

Austin-area farmers markets are usually open rain or shine (and snow or freezing temperatures), but not this weekend.

Nearly all of the local farmers markets on both Saturday and Sunday have been canceled. That includes both of the SFC Farmers Markets (downtown and Sunset Valley), the Texas Farmers’ Markets at Lakeline and Mueller and the Barton Creek Farmers Market at Barton Creek Square mall.

PHOTOS: Texans share pictures of stockpiles, empty shelves ahead of Hurricane Harvey

The Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers’ Market Downtown will be closed this weekend because of the impending rain and high winds from Hurricane Harvey. Rodolfo Gonzalez for the Austin American-Statesman

The HOPE Farmers Market has not yet officially canceled its Sunday market, but you can keep an eye on their Facebook page for the latest updates.

MORE: The latest Hurricane Harvey news from the Austin American-Statesman

Keep these Central Texas farmers in your thoughts as these storms approach. Many of them have their fall crops in the ground, and the floods could devastate their fields. If you’d like to make a donation to the Farmer Emergency Fund, an outreach from the Texas Farmers’ Markets to help farmers recover from storms and medical emergencies.

MORE ON HURRICANE HARVEY:

10 things to do indoors with kids this rainy weekend
Hurricane Harvey prep plan: Stuck inside? Here’s what to order from Uber Eats
Hurricane Harvey plan: Here’s what to order at the Alamo Drafthouse
Traveling this weekend and worried about Harvey? What you need to know
Want to see Harvey for yourself? Here are 8 Texas webcams to watch

13 ways to entertain yourself if your power goes out this weekend