Mariann Wizard-Garcia

“It (Project Tejas) was NOT a Jim Hightower aggrandizement project. It was all Texans were coming together in a non-partisan way. Smart. I’m sure we got a lot better cooperation because of that…It would be more in the line of questions, Don’t you think we should be helping American farmers? Well, buying farmers’ grain and milk and stuff is obviously going to help them. We’re not asking them to donate these foods, we’re buying these foods at fair market price for the enormous quantity that we’re buying.”

Mariann Wizard-Vasquez was hired by Save the Children to manage the donations to Project Texas. Save the Children was internationally recognized for its famine relief work in Africa, and their involvment reassured donors that all the money raised was going to feed children in Africa. According to Mariann, Jim Hightower and Susan DeMarco had seen a TV special on the dire food shortages in Ethiopia and wanted to provide meaningful relief, while also connecting the issue with Texas agriculture. In year one, the project raised $700,000 to send grain and food to northern Ethiopia. Mariann also created a teachers’ guide for schools that were choosing to donate money. In year two, in keeping with the belief that indigenous food systems should be self-supporting, Hightower directed that the funds raised go to buy small-scale farm equipment for farmers in these areas.

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