East Texas Food Bank to receive philanthropic investment from MacKenzie Scott

Recently, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott published a list of charitable investments that she is making in non-profits across the United States, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. According to the article Scott published on Medium, 384 organizations were selected and the East Texas Food Bank is honored and proud to be included in this list of gift recipients.

“We are quickly convening our board of directors, leadership team and other stakeholders to ensure that the philanthropy entrusted to us will help more East Texans access more nutritious food and support services equitably and efficiently- now, during the crisis of COVID-19, and for the long term,” said East Texas Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Dennis Cullinane.

ETFB plans to share details about the gift and how it will be invested across ETFB’s 26 county service area in early 2021.

“This generous investment in the East Texas Food Bank is a vote of confidence in the work we are all doing together to end hunger in East Texas,” Cullinane said. “Every partner agency, volunteer, donor, staff member, board member and stakeholder should feel proud to receive this recognition and investment.”

Cullinane added that the investment will serve to advance our strategic plan and our capacity to achieve the goal of ending hunger in East Texas by enabling us to invest in initiatives and tactics that up until now lacked resources.

“The hunger crisis is bigger than what any one philanthropist can solve,” Cullinane added. Ending hunger and its devastating effects in East Texas is within our reach when we all come together to fight hunger. With this investment and continued generosity of all East Texans, we can end hunger together.”

The announcement comes as East Texas is battling an unprecedented hunger crisis. Texas has the 7th highest food insecurity rate in the nation. Locally, one in five East Texans, including one in three children, is facing hunger. That’s 256,410 East Texans, including 96,350 children and households of color experience disproportionately higher rates of hunger.

“The East Texas Food Bank values transparency and after a thorough review, analysis and strategic planning, we will share our plans for this investment and the impact it will have on the people we serve,” Cullinane added.

East Texas Food Bank honors seven recipients with inaugural Hunger Hero Awards

  • Brookshire Grocery Company

To recognize the outpouring of support from the community during the East Texas Food Bank’s crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ETFB honored seven recipients with the inaugural Hunger Hero Awards.

Hunger Hero Awards were given to Brookshire Grocery Company, Longview Police Department, Smith County Government, Texas Army National Guard 1st Squadron 124th Calvary Regiment, The Mentoring Alliance, T.L.L. Temple Foundation and Tyler Police Department.

“Hunger existed in East Texas long before the pandemic hit and now more of our neighbors – kids in our children’s classes, the barista at the local coffee shop and our working-class neighbors– are struggling to put food on the table today,” said East Texas Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Dennis Cullinane. “We’re inspired by the support we’ve received from the community to help ensure that all East Texas have access to the nutritious food they need to thrive during these difficult times.”

The awards were given during Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month. The awareness month is every September and works to inspire community to take action and bring attention to the reality of Hunger in East Texas.

“It is the Tyler Police Department’s honor and privilege to fully support the highly professional and compassionate people of the East Texas Food Bank,” said Tyler Police Department Sergeant Matt Leigeber. “Our local government officials recognized early on with the COVID-19 pandemic, that many of our citizens in East Texas are facing extremely difficult times, many for the first time.  When the East Texas Food Bank requested to partner with the Tyler Police Department in order to safely and efficiently serve thousands of our citizens on a regular basis, we were excited to be a part of that.”

Hunger impacts people in every corner of the country, including 282,530 people, 105,850 of which are children, right here in East Texas. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of East Texans facing hunger increased five percent and the number of children increased 10 percent.

Before the pandemic hit, one in five East Texans, including one in four children, were facing hunger. According to projections from Feeding America, now it’s nearly one in four East Texans, including one in three children.

“For 92 years, Brookshire Grocery has been committed to causes including hunger relief in the communities where we live and work. Never has the need been more pervasive or sustained than during this pandemic. We are very grateful to have been able to partner with the East Texas Food Bank to help those who have been affected by the pandemic,” said Chairman and CEO of Brookshire Grocery Co. Brad Brookshire.

“Hunger is a crisis in East Texas that will take the whole communities’ support to fight. While the fight against hunger is ongoing- together, we can feed hope for our neighbors in need,” Cullinane said.

Hunger in East Texas is growing

Before the pandemic hit our community, East Texas was already facing a hunger crisis with 1 in 5 East Texans facing hunger. Unfortunately, the number has increased and now 1 in 4 East Texans, including 1 in 3 children, are facing hunger each day.

The pandemic has presented the perfect storm of increased need for food assistance, declines in donations of food and challenges to how food banks operate.

Hunger can affect people from all walks of life. Many families are one job loss or medical crisis away from needing help. Many times, it’s families who have done everything by the book, but still find themselves in need of help.

Hunger affects families like DeAdra’s. DeAdra wants a better childhood for her three-year-old son with special needs but struggles to put food on the table while caring for him full-time. With her local food pantry, DeAdra is now able to provide healthy food for Dacian and herself. “I’d spent many days going to sleep with an empty stomach, making sure he had all the food in the house,” DeAdra said.

The East Texas Food Bank is dedicated to making sure East Texas families like DeAdra’s have access to the healthy food they need to thrive. But we couldn’t do it without you!

September is Hunger Action Month and we need the whole communities support to help us fight hunger and feed hope. No action is too small! Here’s how you can get involved:

How hunger affects seniors like Mary

The rate of hunger among seniors aged 60 and older has increased drastically over the past 20 years, and now COVID-19 puts even more at-risk. Seniors facing hunger increased by 38% since 2001 and as America ages, hunger pains grow.

According to Feeding America:

·       63% of seniors are forced to choose between food and medical care.

·       Households served by the Feeding America network that includes an adult of the age 50 or older are at an increased risk of having someone with a chronic health condition, including diabetes (41%) and high blood pressure (70%)- conditions that can be mitigated by healthy food options.

·       Only 48% of eligible seniors are enrolled and receiving SNAP benefits.

Hunger affects seniors we serve like, Mary. As a certified nursing assistant for 30 years, Mary was used to taking care of people. But after having a stroke, the tables turned.

“I was taking care of people practically all my life,” she said. “And then I had to have someone take care of me. It was really hard.”

Since the stroke, Mary can’t work. On disability, she’s not able to afford the food she needs. But she gets some help from a food pantry working.

“The food I get at the pantry is a big help to me. I wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise,” she said.

Mary is used to working, but for now, the pantry is helping fill in the gaps.

“I never expected to need this help,” she said. “But I’m glad it’s there now.”​

The East Texas Food Bank is dedicated to making sure East Texas seniors, like Mary, have access to the healthy food they need to thrive. We serve seniors through our Senior Box Program, Fresh Produce Program, Partner Food Pantries and Soup Kitchen, and our Benefits Assistance Program.

But we couldn’t serve some of East Texan’s most vulnerable with the community’s support! For Hunger Action Month, you can volunteer, host a virtual food drive (online fundraiser), make a one-time or monthly donation or share our messages on social media.

Hunger deprives our kids of more than just food

It’s a simple fact: A child’s chance for a bright tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. But this year, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, 105,850 East Texas children – 1 in every 3 kids – may not know where they will get their next meal.

Kids who don’t get enough to eat — especially during their first three years — begin life at a serious disadvantage. When they’re hungry, children are more likely to be hospitalized and they face higher risks of health conditions like anemia and asthma. And as they grow up, kids struggling to get enough to eat are more likely to have problems in school and other social situations.

The East Texas Food Bank works to fight hunger for children through year-round programs. On the weekends, our Backpack Program provides easy to open food that doesn’t require any cooking. After school, the Kids Café program provides healthy snacks and meals. During the summer, the Summer Food Program provides healthy breakfast and lunch meals. At home, our Food Pantry Partners and Benefits Assistance Program provide meals for the whole family.

We have a responsibility to the next generation to give them every opportunity to succeed — which in turn will strengthen our East Texas communities. That’s why feeding children facing hunger is a main priority for the East Texas Food Bank, but we can’t do it without your help. September is Hunger Action Month and we need everyone helping us fight hunger.

No action is too small! Sharingvolunteeringfundraising and donating are a few ways you can help us fight hunger. See how you can be a hunger hero for the children in your community by clicking here,