Sisters provide meat to families in need

By Megan Wehring

DRIPPING SPRINGS — When Dripping Springs sisters Grace and Faith Baxter saw too many families trying to survive on a strict food budget, they started working toward bridging the gap.

For some, animal products are a vital part of a balanced diet. The Baxter sisters noticed that some families just simply could not afford to buy meat. That’s when they decided in 2016 to develop Center of the Plate, a project focused on feeding the community one family at a time. The meat is donated by 4-H and FFA members.

“Meat protein is such a valuable source of energy and nutrients,” Grace said. “It’s really interesting to see how many people don’t actually have access to that because of economics.”

Over this past year, they have provided more than 52,000 meals to families, which equals 9,600 pounds of beef and pork. These numbers are based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labeling a serving as three ounces of meat protein.

There are other food assistance programs throughout the city of Dripping Springs, yet Center of the Plate is one of the only services that offers high-quality protein sources, according to Faith.

Center of the Plate currently offers an open door policy from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays at the Dripping Springs Presbyterian Church. To keep everyone safe from COVID-19, they are conducting a drive-thru system with volunteers distributing pre-packaged products into vehicles.

Both Grace and Faith do not consider themselves to be young entrepreneurs; they just have a passion for lending a helping hand in their community.

“It’s been a very humbling experience,” Grace said. “We started off with this idea and came up with ways to hopefully execute that to the best intention. But, it’s really been through the community’s support that it’s been as successful as it has been.”

“I also find that leadership is not just a one man show,” Faith said. “It really is a partnership or a community coming together to enact change … Center of the Plate was just a perfect pairing of being able to provide our knowledge of agriculture for a need in our community.”

Grace is a senior at Texas Tech University and Faith is a sophomore at Oklahoma State University. When their academics keep them away from their hometown of Dripping Springs, they rely on their parents and church group to help with the day-to-day operations.

Looking into the future of Center of the Plate, Grace said that she wants to see the next generation of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) students more involved.

“I know there are kids that have watched us start the project,” Grace said. “I don’t think some students have realized the potential that’s there for them to have ownership in that. I think that would be a really great way to continue the project.”

Faith said that she hopes to see a committee take on the project, rather than a few people here and there.
“I think what really makes Center of the Plate special is that youth started it,” Faith reflected. “I think it’s integral that we keep youth involved because it really shows how our next generation is going to be helping the world.”
Grace credits the support from her family and community to keep this project going.

“When you have someone like Faith,” Grace said. “She is such an encouraging person. We definitely have been able to really overcome those obstacles and with that support, it’s been impeccable to see the amount of impact we have had.”

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About Author

Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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