“Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” with Walmart, Sam’s Club

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One in five East Texans, including one in three children, are facing hunger this year due to the ongoing economic fallout from COVID-19. Neighbors in our community are struggling to put food on the table – simply facing this difficult reality for the first time in their lives.

That is why Walmart and Sam’s Club are supporting the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, including the East Texas Food Bank, through the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign. Now in its eighth year, the campaign has been a way for Walmart and Sam’s Club to partner with suppliers, customers, and members to help provide food to people in need. In fact, last year over 870,000 additional meals were provided to families through the East Texas Food Bank thanks to this campaign!

Fight Hunger. Spark Change.  runs in stores and online from April 5 – May 3, 2021. There are four easy ways for customers and members to participate:

Funds raised through Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in our service area will directly benefit the East Texas Food Bank.

Participating suppliers include: Abbott, Bodyarmor, Bush Brothers & Company, Campbell Soup Company, Clif Bar & Company, Ferrera Candy Company, General Mills, Great Value, Iovate Health Sciences, J.M. Smucker, Kellogg’s, Keurig/Mott’s, Kitu Coffee, Kraft Heinz, Materne North America, Mighty Spark, Monster Energy, PEPSICO, Post Consumer Brands, Purina, Simply Good Foods, Strong Roots, The Coca-Cola Company, The Clorox Company, This Saves Lives, Unilever and United States Nutrition.

Deep East Texas Resource Center opens to provide services in Lufkin

  • The Deep East Texas Resource Center (DETRC) is located at 105 Lofton Street in Lufkin, Texas.

The East Texas Food Bank has officially opened its newest program, the Deep East Texas Resource Center, at 105 Lofton St. Lufkin, TX 75904. The goal of DETRC is to augment the good work done by Lufkin’s current food pantries and provide a one-stop-shop of wraparound services with a food pantry, benefits assistance and other support services for families in deep East Texas.

The food pantry will operate Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Families don’t have to live in Lufkin to visit the pantry.

The food pantry is meant to serve households at or below the Emergency Food Assistance Program income guidelines. Families that are experiencing a crisis may also qualify for short-term food assistance.

No identification or paperwork is required to receive assistance. Clients will be asked for a verbal declaration of their full name, address, number of people in the household, date of birth and monthly income.

There are two COVID-safe options to receive food from the pantry.

  1. CURBSIDE– To limit the amount of contact with volunteers and food pantry staff, clients can park in the parking lot. They will be greeted by a volunteer, who will obtain the following information: Full name, address, number of people in the household, date of birth, and monthly income. Once this is complete, the volunteer will load food into their vehicle.
  2. INSIDE– For clients that would like to choose their food, they can shop inside. Clients will be greeted at the reception desk, where a volunteer will take their temperature and provide them with a mask if needed. Masks will be required to receive food inside. If the temperature is in a safe range, clients will be asked their full name, address, number of people in the household, date of birth and monthly income. After that, they’ll sit in the waiting area for a short time before walking through our food pantry to select food from a range of shelf-stable items, meat, and fresh produce. Grocery carts will be available.

In addition to the food pantry, the DETRC will host nutrition education classes, provide on-site and virtual benefits assistance and provide access to other services such as Texas Workforce Commission and WIC. A list of all programs and services can be found at www.detrc.org.

DETRC was able to open with funding from a grant provided by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.

If you would like to support DETRC, you can follow and share the Facebook page, volunteer and donate.

Virtual food drives helping make a difference in East Texas during COVID

Virtual Food Drives

Food drives have always been a part of food banking since the beginning. Everyone loves making a difference when they donate their canned, non-perishable food items to help feed families who are struggling. But with the arrival of COVID-19 last year and new protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, the East Texas Food Bank had to make the tough decision to temporarily suspend our community food drives.

Our solution was to introduce Virtual Food Drives. These online pages are a great way to still donate food to the East Texas Food Bank by making monetary gifts. These food drives have proven to be very popular, with over 546,000 meals raised so far “virtually”.

We recently spoke with one of our virtual food drive organizers, Brett Noteware, about his virtual food drive experience..

ETFB: Brett, how did you learn about our Virtual Food Drives?
Brett: The pandemic has adversely impacted many people in our area. My awareness of food scarcity was heightened by a photo I saw of cars lined up to get food at a distribution in Dallas. I then heard about a volunteer event at the East Texas Food Bank sponsored by my employer, CHRISTUS Health. I wanted to participate in that, but decided not to due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. So instead, I contacted the food bank and learned about Virtual Food Drives and thought it would be a great idea.

ETFB: Why did you decide to host a VFD?
Brett: To help those in need that have been impacted by the pandemic. This also aligns with the values of CHRISTUS Health, who thankfully I am still able to work for during the pandemic.

ETFB: Tell us about your specific drive. What made is special?
Brett: I did the virtual food drive as part of my birthday celebration. The pandemic caused me to reassess my life and develop a new appreciation and gratitude for my station in it. I realized that I would have a better birthday by focusing on those in need instead of myself. Since large gatherings were not an option, I did a “gumbo-to-go” event in which my wife and I made gumbo, homemade rolls and bread pudding. We gave it away and asked for donations for the East Texas Food Bank in return. We ended up raising over $1,000 which was amazing and surprising to say the least!

ETFB: Would you encourage someone to hose a virtual food drive for the East Texas Food Bank?
Brett: Absolutely! The process for setting it up was extremely easy. The staff at the East Texas Food Bank do all of the work, you just provide some basic information to them. It was a very rewarding experience and I am hopeful to do another one in the future.

To learn more about our Virtual Food Drives and how you, your organization or business can make a difference, click here.

New Mobile Pantry Program brings produce to underserved locations

Mobile Pantry Program

The East Texas Food Bank’s new Mobile Pantry Program targets isolated communities with little or no access to emergency food resources throughout our 26 county service area. Communities are determined by using census data that indicates where the highest level of poverty are located.

“We work with our current partners and have community partners that help us facilitate the mobile pantry,” said Tabitha Johnson ETFB Mobile Pantry Coordinator. “It’s a ‘pop-up style’ event where we come on-site then leave when distribution is over.”

The Mobile Pantry Program currently has 10 sites where fresh produce is being distributed to families. Because the program is truly “mobile”, it allows flexibility in location.

“A typical food bank partner pantry is a brick and mortar building,” Johnson said. “A benefit with this program is we can serve a low-income housing development or a larger population in a church parking lot like we do in Texarkana.”

As many as 500 families have been served during one of the recent distributions, but an average of 200-300 household is more common.

“I think the need is so great right now due to the pandemic,” Johnson said.

The community response to the mobile pantry distributions has been good, according to Johnson. She said those who are served are so grateful.

“When we opened the Marshall site recently, we were able to take water and produce because of the need with having the boil water notice there,” Johnson said. “A lady tried to climb out of the car and give me a hug because she was so excited because they hadn’t had water in days and the food was such a blessing to them.”

There are no income or geographic requirements to participate in the Mobile Pantry Program. For more information and locations on the program, click here. If you are interested in being being a partner and hosting a Mobile Pantry location, click here.

One Year Later: Feeding Hunger During a Pandemic

As we reach an unexpected milestone, the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to take a moment to update you on our work and say thank you. Of all the disasters that the East Texas Food Bank has responded to over the last 33 years, this pandemic has brought an unprecedented challenge to our mission of fighting hunger and feeding hope.

When COVID-19 hit our East Texas communities a year ago, we were presented with the perfect storm of increased demand, disruptions to our food sourcing model and a decline in our invaluable volunteers.

Knowing that the need of our neighbors would be greater than ever, we didn’t let these obstacles deter us from our mission. We immediately responded to the pandemic by augmenting our year-round programs so they could safely operate. Additionally, we held drive-thru emergency food box distributions, piloted a senior home delivery program and provided targeted financial and logistical support to our partner agencies so they could stay open.

The East Texas Food Bank, volunteers, food pantries and feeding programs have been, and will continue to be, on the frontlines ensuring our neighbors have access to the food and services they need during this difficult time. Together, we were able to serve more than 24.4 million meals to over 75,000 families from March 2020-February 2021.

I am so grateful for our generous donors, community partners, volunteers and hard-working staff that have made this difficult work possible, but our work is far from over. Every single day, 1 in 5 East Texans, including 1 in 3 children, are facing hunger. However, thanks to generous friends like you, I know we’ll continue to fight hunger and feed hope throughout 2021.

You can help us continue to fight hunger and feed hope in East Texas by making a gift, volunteering with us or having a virtual food drive for your business or organization.