Center of the Plate fights hunger in Dripping


Grace Baxter loads one of the freezers

Gary Zupancic


Baseball’s center of the plate concerns the ball passing over home plate. But this organization hits the plate when it comes to hunger. Center of the Plate (CoP) is a homegrown Dripping Springs organization of students in 4-H and FFA. They help others by putting meat protein on the center of needy families’ plates.

As Ag students they raise cattle and swine for school and show them off at places like the Hays County Livestock Show. They all go through the familiar process of raising animals.

They got together in October 2015 and came up with a project in early 2016. They decided they would like for the livestock they raised to be processed and the meats, i.e. beef and pork, would be stored and given to the less fortunate families in the community.

The (CoP) would also come up with a selection process to pick the families that would be given the 320 lbs. of meat or so of DS livestock, processed in south Austin then carried back to Dripping Springs in cooler vans.

It’s amazing the kind of community involvement these high school students can accomplish in such a short period of time. In the first year 22 family members received per family, one market steer and five market hogs donated. The meat is stored at the DS Presbyterian Church. They host the 8 donated freezers from local businesses. Since the freezers really take up a lot of space making it impossible to store at someone’s home, the church welcomed them.

 “The families come out every Wednesday and take whatever they need. They bring cooler bags…(and ask) what will we have for this week? And they put it in the bag and they get whatever they needed this week,“ Grace Baxter said. She and her sister Faith are co-founders of CoP.

They are well supported in the area with numerous events like the Hill Country Rally for Kids, which gave them a grant of $3,500 for the processing costs of meat. The Wild Game Dinner also donated $2250.

They have a booth at the Farmer’s Market and they also attend First Thursday to” build awareness,” Grace said. “And we’ve had a float in the last two Founder’s Day parade.”

But being hungry is a national problem. “I’ve been blessed with parents that have given me so much…we have to help other out.”

The church’s Co-Pastor Mitch Kolls bakes bread and delivers it at food distribution time. Working with kids is part of the fun of being a minister.

“They are a huge inspiration to other people in the church…it’s a treat to watch them inspire other youth and others in the community,” Koll said.

As for the future, CoP will select their new families to sponsor this year in June. They have doubled last years’ total of four to eight. Next year they hope to double the total again. The CoP members help the families with the application process and do everything to make the process easy. 

"The most rewarding part of this experience is to see how appreciative each family is to have this meat and know they have a reliable source of protein to feed their families," Grace said.

The Center of the Plate, in just a little over a year has made a big difference in other families’ lives that is remarkable. But Grace has this simple statement.

“How do you tell a 4 year old that you don’t have food to feed them?” asked Grace.

 For more information on Center of the Plate see their Facebook page at:   



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