For the past three months, the East Texas Food Bank has held drive-thru distributions in cities all over our 26 county service area. The distributions were developed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and we saw an immediate, increased demand for families affected by job loss, school closures and shutdowns. In fact, between March and May 2020 the East Texas Food Bank provided 6.8 million meals to over 112,000 families. This is a 40% increase compared to 2019.
Even as Texas begins to reopen and people start returning to work, the need for food assistance is still great. Texas is dealing with the highest unemployment rate since 1986, and new data from Feeding America indicates that 1 in 3 children in East Texas is facing hunger now. This is up from 1 in 4 children last year.
We met Binu at the weekly distribution in Tyler recently. He, his wife and two children are new not only East Texas, but to the United States, arriving during an unprecedented pandemic affecting the country.
“We waited 14 years in India for our immigrant green card,” Binu told us. “We started (the process) in 2006 and learned a lot of patience.”
Once Binu’s family was here, the pandemic created more problems for them.
“A lot of the offices were closed so we couldn’t get our assistance,” he said.
Binu told us he had been coming to the weekly distribution for the last few weeks, and that the items he received helped tremendously.
“We will not waste any food items,” he said. “So many are struggling for food in the world.”
It’s a struggle Binu says he has seen in India first hand.
“The problem is there and people are suffering a lot,” he said. “We don’t have all of this in India. We feel like someone cares here. I saw the military serving and police supporting us. I’m so proud of that.”
Binu said he was so thankful to the East Texas Food Bank, volunteers and donors who help to support families like his during these times.
“Giving food to somebody is the biggest charity you can do a person,” he said. “We all need food and water to survive so those who are providing this kind of thing is big. Nothing is better in the world.”
If you would like to support East Texas families like Binu’s, click here to give.