East Texas Food Bank begins Free Summer Food Program

The East Texas Food Bank kicks off the free Summer Food Program for children on Tuesday, June 4, at 42 East Texas locations.

“It’s so important to make sure children do not go hungry in the summer just because school is out,” said David Emerson, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “Here in East Texas, 1 in 4 children are food insecure so it’s up to our community to make sure we fill that meal gap when the school year ends and kids lose access to free and reduced-price meals they depend on.”

In Tyler, the Summer Food Program will kick-off at the Glass Recreation Center at 501 W. 32nd street with a special celebration of free activities and a free meal from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Activities include face painting, games, a petting zoo, Tyler fire and police department, Andy the Ambulance, games and free Kona Ice.

In 2023, the East Texas Food Bank served 42,000 meals to over 1,700 children throughout East Texas. This summer, ETFB will serve 64,000 meals to over 3,000 children.

Meals are provided at various community sites Monday-Friday. There is no need to register. The program is for children 18 and younger. Some locations offer breakfast and lunch but all offer lunch. Kids eat the meal at the location. Typical breakfast menus are cereal or breakfast bars, plus juice and milk, while lunch includes wraps, wedges, sandwiches with deli meat, pizza lunchables, fresh fruit and chocolate milk.

Besides the meal, some of the locations at parks, churches and libraries offer other free activities for children. Check with the Summer Food Program you plan to visit for more information.

ETFB also provides food at various campuses for kids enrolled in summer school but these are not open to the public.

For the full list of locations and serving times visit EastTexasFoodBank.org/SummerFood or by calling 903-597-3663.

Feeding America study shows more people are hungry in East Texas New Map the Meal Gap numbers released today

Map the Meal Gap blog header

More East Texans are food insecure and the increase in food prices and the amount of money they need to buy food has reached its highest point in the last 20 years, according to Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap study.

At the local level, Map the Meal Gap finds that in East Texas more people are hungry with the new data numbers showing 1 in 6 East Texas adults are hungry including 1 in 4 children with a meal gap of over 40.8 million meals. That is a significant change from the 1 in 7 adults including 1 in 5 children from the previous study. The East Texas Food Bank is one of more than 200 food banks that are part of Feeding America’s nationwide food bank network.

Map the Meal Gap is the only study that provides local-level estimates of food insecurity and food costs for every county and congressional district. The study builds upon the USDA’s latest report of national and state data, which showed a sharp increase in food insecurity in 2022 amidst historically high food prices and the expiration of many pandemic-era programs. Map the Meal Gap emphasizes the urgent call for all of us to take action.

“This year’s study confirms what we hear from people facing hunger: higher food prices are making hunger in America worse,” said Kim Morris, Chief Impact Officer for the East Texas Food Bank. “Map the Meal Gap helps us understand the impact of food insecurity and underlines that we can choose to end hunger in America by coming together as a nation.”

Other key findings of the 2022 Map the Meal Gap in East Texas versus 2021 data include:

  • 1 in 6 adults or 16.9% are food insecure compared to 1 in 7 adults (14.8%) from 2021 data
  • 1 in 4 children or 26.1% are food insecure compared to 1 in 5 children (20.9%) from 2021 data
  • 217,260 are food insecure in East Texas up from 188,530
  • 78,620 of children are food insecure up from 63,260

Income and Food Spending: 

  • Nearly 50% of people facing hunger may not qualify for SNAP benefits due to income thresholds.
  • The national food budget shortfall, which reflects the extra money that people who are food insecure report needing to cover their food needs, has hit a record high of $33.1 billion, up nearly 43% from the previous year. This translates to $24.73 a week per person, on average.

Food Costs and Meal Prices: 

  • Meal costs vary significantly throughout the nation and here in East Texas the average cost of a meal is $3.57 up from $3.17. Costs are at their highest point in the last two decades even after adjusting for inflation.

      Food Insecurity by Race and Ethnicity in East Texas from the 2022 Map the Meal Gap vs. 2021 data

  • 29% of Blacks are food insecure (1 in 3) compared to 24% or (1 in 4) from 2021 data
  • 22% of Hispanics are food insecure (1 in 5) compared to 16% or (1 in 6) from 2021 data
  • 12% of Whites are food insecure (1 in 8) compared to 9% or (1 in 11) from 2021 data

The Map the Meal Gap study is supported by Conagra Brands Foundation and NielsenIQ/NIQ. Additional key takeaways from the report can be found on the Map the Meal Gap website along with an interactive map that details food insecurity by geography, income, race and ethnicity.


Map the Meal Gap uses publicly available data from the USDA ERS, U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate local food insecurity at the county, congressional district and state levels. The study also estimates local meal costs and food budget shortfalls using food price data from NIQ based on the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, and grocery sales tax data for every county and state in the country.

To learn how food insecurity impacts your community, click here.

The East Texas Food Bank to Open Texarkana Resource Center and Pantry

The East Texas Food Bank (ETFB) will open on May 14, the new Texarkana Resource Center at 3019 S. Lake Dr. in Texarkana, TX as part of ETFB’s overall strategic plan to distribute more food and serve more people.

“The Texarkana Resource Center is located near low-income neighborhoods, where 9,000 people live below the federal poverty line,” said David Emerson, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank.

The Texarkana Resource Center will include a “Healthy Food Pantry” to provide nutritious food through a neighbor-choice distribution model, as well as an access point for other services meant to help families reach self-sufficiency. The center will be open several days a week including some evenings and weekends to increase access. The Benefits Assistance Program will also be available to help clients apply for SNAP and other social service benefits.

“We currently estimate that ETFB will serve 300 Bowie County households each week and provide 1,000,000 meals annually,” added Emerson.

“The food pantry is meant to serve households at or below the emergency food income guidelines,” said Kim Morris, ETFB Chief Impact Officer. “For example, a family of four would qualify to receive food if they make less than $55,500 per year. Other people who qualify to receive assistance are those experiencing a crisis such as a house fire, tornado, or extreme medical bills.”

According to “Map the Meal Gap,” an annual study conducted by Feeding America, an estimated 14 percent of Bowie County residents are food insecure and at risk of hunger, including almost 21 percent of children.

“Every day we encounter new neighbors who have never stepped foot into a pantry asking for assistance,” added Morris. “We want East Texans to know that we are here for you and want to be a resource for food as well as other services.”

“For over 33 years, ETFB has been a part of the Texarkana community through our 10 pantry partners, soup kitchens, senior box and children’s programs,” added Emerson. “This location will be open extended hours including Friday afternoon and Saturday morning when our other partners are closed. We also want to invite other non-profit agencies to have a booth on pantry days so they can offer their services to our neighbors.”

The Texarkana Resource Center has received generous funding from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. Wynn Rosser, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, said, “rural East Texas has higher rates of food insecurity than our state and nation. The foundation is grateful ETFB is bringing this innovative approach to Texarkana where they will be working alongside families and the community to ensure our neighbors thrive.”

“This is our fourth resource center to open in East Texas,” said Emerson. “In 2021, we opened the Deep East Texas Resource Center in Lufkin, in October of 2023 we opened the Longview Resource Center, in December of 2023, we opened our Tyler Resource Center and now we are excited to open this branch in Texarkana.”

The Texarkana Resource Center Branch Manager is Shan Parks. Director of Engagement is Amber Adams. Eva Thomas is pantry/warehouse lead and Aaron Sanchez is pantry/warehouse associate.

For more information on how you can volunteer, donate, hours of operation or to see if you qualify for food assistance, please visit Txkrcpantry.org.

East Texas Food Bank to offer new Mobile Pantry in Grand Saline

The East Texas Food Bank (ETFB) will offer a new Mobile Pantry on the fourth Friday of every month with fresh produce in Grand Saline located in Van Zandt County, from 10-11:30 a.m., beginning April 26. The distribution will take place at the Grand Saline High School Football Stadium at 500 W. Stadium Dr.

“Van Zandt County has a great need for food assistance as almost 14% of the residents including 16.7% of children are food insecure according to the latest data from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap,” said David Emerson, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “We know the need is great and plan to serve 300-500 households at the new mobile pantry distribution each month.”

The East Texas Food Bank currently has nine partner agencies in Van Zandt County that operate food pantries in Ben Wheeler, Canton, Edgewood, Grand Saline, Van and Wills Point. In fiscal year 2023, ETFB distributed in Van Zandt County one million pounds of produce.

The drive-through Mobile Pantry is open to anyone needing food and there are no ID requirements.

Walmart and Sam’s Club Fight Hunger. Spark Change Campaign Returns to East Texas to Help People Facing Hunger

Everyone needs nutritious food to thrive, and in every community in America, people are working hard to provide for themselves and their families. Yet in 2022, 44 million people—1 in 7 people—faced food insecurity in the U.S.

Those are the highest numbers in a decade, underscoring the need for more charitable food assistance in East Texas and beyond.

Now, for the 11th straight year, all U.S. Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs are launching the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign, with the goal of providing people facing hunger with access to the food and resources they say they need to thrive. Since its inception in 2014, the campaign has generated more than $186 million and helped secure nearly 1.9 billion meals* for the Feeding America® network of local food banks.

“We are thrilled to partner once again with Walmart and Sam’s Clubs for this incredible campaign,” said David Emerson, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “ETFB continues to see many East Texans who need a helping hand. One dollar equals five meals for our food bank so every dollar makes a difference in our community in fighting hunger.”

The campaign will run in stores and online from April 1-April 29, with three ways for shoppers to participate:

  • By donating at check-out in stores or clubs or round up at Walmart.com and the Walmart app.
  • By purchasing participating products in-store or online at Walmart.com or SamsClub.com. For every purchase of a participating product, the supplier will donate the monetary equivalent of at least one meal ($0.10) on behalf of a Feeding America partner food bank at Walmart and five meals ($0.50) at Sam’s Club, up to applicable limits. See specially marked packages for full details.
  • By donating at Feeding America’s Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign donation site at either www.FeedingAmerica.org/Walmart or www.FeedingAmerica.org/SamsClub

“Serving communities and expanding access to affordable, healthy food lies at the heart of Walmart and Sam’s Club’s purpose to help people live better,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart and President, Walmart Foundation. “Our annual Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign is a way that we invite our customers, members and suppliers to fight hunger alongside us. The funds raised through this campaign go toward local Feeding America food banks, meaning we can all make a difference in our own neighborhoods.”

The 20 participating suppliers for Walmart include: Bush Brothers & Company; CELSIUS® Essential Energy Drink; The Coca-Cola Company; Conagra Brands; Dole Packaged Foods; Ferrara; Ferrero; General Mills; Hain Celestial; Hershey Salty Snacks; Hidden Valley Ranch; Kellanova; W.K. Kellogg Company; Keurig Dr Pepper; Kodiak; Kraft Heinz; Monster Energy; Pepsi-Cola Advertising & Marketing, Inc.; Unilever

The 8 participating suppliers for Sam’s Club include: General Mills; W.K. Kellogg Company; Kraft Heinz; Nestlé; Nissin; Nongshim; Palmetto Gourmet Foods, A Borealis Foods Company; Unilever