Executive Director of Family Joint Venture Foundation Tonia Granger Feeding the Hungry Throughout the Pandemic
DeSoto local Tonia Granger, a Hunger Hero recognized by No Kid Hungry Texas for being an active leader in combating child hunger, supporting children and families in her community every single day, is “a selfless leader that ensures her community members have access to resources such as nutritious meals that will allow them to thrive and come together,” according to Mia Medina, Program Manager for No Kid Hungry Texas.
Tonia is the Executive Director of the Family Joint Venture Foundation, a community-based nonprofit that provides meal assistance to families as well as afterschool and summer meals to children in DeSoto and Corsicana.
No Kid Hungry Texas celebrated Black History Month by highlighting Black leaders in Texas communities making a difference, and Tonia was at the top of their list.
Making an Impact In The Community
Tonia Granger was born and raised in Elgin, Illinois where she attended Elgin High School then the famous HBCU Grambling State University.
In 2010, she volunteered for a local nonprofit organization which prepared meals for at-risk youth during the summer feeding program. She admits, “I remember not taking it seriously and arrived LATE to deliver the meals.”
That sounds like a little thing, but she learned quickly how being late wasn’t just rude. It was wrong. “It was as if I had lost sight of my roots because I knew how essential having a meal was. The kids were so excited and didn’t mind that I had arrived 15 minutes late. Instead, the kids welcomed me with smiles, laughter and asked to be my “helper” to bring the meals inside where they could eat.”
She says, “I watched volunteers distribute the meals to over 100 kids that day. That experience, CHANGED MY LIFE!” She explains, “When I left, I drove the van in silence with tears rolling down my face asking God to forgive me for arriving late.”
Less than a year later, she left corporate America and founded her own nonprofit organization. In 2011, FJV FOUNDATION (known as Family Joint Venture Foundation) was put into motion, and she was determined to serve her community.
Her favorite thing about working at FJV FOUNDATION is, “Knowing our work is making a difference in the lives of others. Our community knows we are reliable, and they look to us for hope. They use us as a resource to help improve their current situation. If we can’t help…they know we will do whatever we can to connect them with other organizations who have additional resources.”
FJV Foundation Programs
FJV FOUNDATION has several programs. “We participate in both the summer feeding program and the after-school program where we provide free meals to children 18 and younger,” she explains. “We also have a yearly event called, “Day of Dignity”, yearly back to school events, provide toys to families during the holidays, assist Homeless with meals and several additional services to the community.”
Her favorite thing about working with “No Kid Hungry” is the hands-on approach the staff has taken. “No Kid Hungry is sincere and continuously asks FJV FOUNDATION what they can do to help us help our community.”
“No Kid Hungry” assists FJV Foundation with grant funds, and the group also wants to be of service. “Hunger doesn’t have boundaries,” Tonia says. “We work together connecting people with food to end hunger.”
The partnership between FJV FOUNDATION and No Kid Hungry began at the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. “Our world had been turned upside down. Hunger had surged and families struggled to make ends meet. No Kid Hungry helped FJV FOUNDATION tackle hunger.” She says, “Figuratively speaking, it was like our community was in quicksand and No Kid Hungry helped us pull others struggling out of the quicksand.”
Tackling Supply & Demand Issues
Tonia says the pandemic was by far the toughest time within the organization.
“People were dying, and everyone was afraid. Shelves were getting empty due to panic shoppers; donations were minimal and the demand for food to families in need was increasing at an all-time high.” In addition, her FJV FOUNDATION lost employees, volunteers and she didn’t know if or how to continue to work within the community.
“New policies and procedures had to be created. I began working around the clock. Not only administrative, but operations as well. “Tonia said she worked in the kitchen, warehouse, as a delivery driver, marketer, anything to keep open. “I was determined to continue working endlessly because my community relied on FJV FOUNDATION. The limited staff showed up daily and we did the most we could daily with love and compassion.”
Her vision is to continue the work she is doing at FJV FOUNDATION and be able to feed and help even more people in need. And her needs are basic. “We desperately need a refrigerated food truck to transport fresh fruits and vegetables to rural areas we service.”
In addition, she says “We look forward to placing a soup kitchen on the land the organization owns in a rural area that will also have a community garden where we will be able to teach others how to grow food and teach them about gardening and eating healthy.”
Want to get involved?
Contact the FJV Foundation at: