Ursula Plaisance has been the director of Helping Hands of Kilgore, an East Texas Food Bank partner agency, for just over four years. However, nothing could have prepared her for the effects of 2020 on her pantry.
“COVID really rocked all of our worlds,” Ursula said. “We’ve seen an influx of people that have had job losses. Some that are just not able to make ends meet because their hours have gotten reduced. Some have gone on furlough, so that has affected a lot of our families.”
Helping Hands of Kilgore normally sees between 70 to 90 new families each month, but that number doubled during September and October.
“We’ve seen a lot of new families,” Ursula said. “We have been able to have enough food for everyone that comes. Thanks to the help from the East Texas Food Bank, we get the items we need.”
Due to COVID, Ursula told us the pantry had to make some changes in how they serve their clients. This included placing a table at the entrance where food items are gathered. Once complete, clients pick up their items and the table is cleaned and sanitized before the next client’s items are gathered.
“We have everyone wear masks,” Ursula said. “We just want to be very cautious for our volunteers and clients.”
Speaking of volunteers, Ursula said they have “been remarkable” during these tough months.
“When we train volunteers, they love to come and work,” she said. “They look forward to being here. We are like a big family.”
Ursula knows that hunger will still exists after the COVID pandemic is over, but she is glad Helping Hands of Kilgore will be there to help.
“Without the East Texas Food Bank, I don’t think we could run as smoothly and as confident knowing that we are going to get the produce that we need to distribute to our families,” Ursula said. “None of this would be possible without the food bank.”