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, T.L.L. Temple Foundation address food insecurity in deep East Texas

The T.L.L. Temple Foundation has awarded the East Texas Food Bank a 1.89 million dollar grant to launch the Deep East Texas Food Security Initiative on July 1. Over the next several years, the initiative will address four key focus areas:

  1. Partner Agency Development and Capacity Building
  2. Increased Fresh Produce Distribution
  3. Social Benefits Application Assistance
  4. Development of Deep East Texas Resource Center (including purchasing 105 Lofton St., Lufkin, TX.)

The East Texas Food Bank exists to fight hunger and feed hope in East Texas.  ETFB distributes food to a network of more than 200 partner agencies and feeding programs throughout 26 East Texas counties, including 11 counties served by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, which are Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Cass, Cherokee, Houston, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, San Augustine and Shelby.

“The aim of this initiative is primarily to increase support for rural areas in 11 counties we share with ETFB.  Lufkin is blessed to have a number of organizations focused on food insecurity.  Through the Deep East Texas Resource Center, the foundation will be able to enhance our support for organizations serving rural people and rural places,” said T.L.L. Temple Foundation President and CEO Wynn Rosser. “ETFB is a critical resource for our region, and the foundation is excited to work with Dennis and his team in this new way.”

Last fiscal year, the East Texas Food Bank provided more than 21.3 million meals throughout its service area, including approximately 8.4 million meals in the 11-county focus area for this initiative.

In those 11 counties, nearly 20 percent of residents are at risk of hunger, including approximately 26 percent of children.

“Due to the pandemic, we’re expecting the food insecurity rate to grow even further,” said East Texas Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Dennis Cullinane“According to projections from Feeding America, we’re anticipating about one in four East Texans, including one in three children, to be at risk of hunger. We are committed to increasing our distribution and services to meet this need.”

The initiative will also work to address major public health problems related to food insecurity. Family members in food insecure households are more likely to report poorer health and depressive symptoms and have higher risks for chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, conditions related to heart disease are the leading cause of death in northeast Texas. Additionally, in counties served by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, the percentages of adults diagnosed with diabetes range from nine to 21 percent.

The initiative will address these health issues by increasing access to healthy, nutritious food and fresh produce items. The grant funding from the Temple Foundation will help ETFB increase produce distribution over the next two years – providing funding for 600,000 pounds of fresh produce in fiscal year 2021 and 1.2 million pounds in fiscal year 2022.

The initiative will also expand ETFB’s Benefits Assistance Program in deep East Texas. Currently, only one of 56 partner agencies in the 11 shared counties offer the program. In conjunction with food distributions, ETFB partner agencies will help clients sign up for programs such as SNAP, WIC, Medicaid and more.

Lastly, the grant will fund the Deep East Texas Resource Center at 105 Lofton St., Lufkin, TX. The new-multi service branch will expand and increase the accessibility of food assistance and provide wrap-around services to community members in need.

The Resource Center is intended to augment the good work done by Lufkin’s current food pantries and will include a Healthy Pantry Program, host nutrition education classes, serve as a fresh produce redistribution center, provide on-site benefits assistance and provide access to other services such as Texas Workforce Commission and WIC.

One of the key elements of the initiative and purposes of the Resource Center is to increase the availability of fresh produce in the 11 rural counties, which are a focus of this initiative.

“Unfortunately, many East Texans have little or no access to fresh produce,” Cullinane said. “Families on a tight food budget are forced to stretch their food dollars and often buy cheap, high-calorie foods that ward off hunger but have limited nutritional value.”

Feeding America CEO visits East Texas to address national, local response to COVID-19


During her visit to East Texas, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a “perfect storm” due to increases in demand for food and decreases both in supply and volunteers.

At a news conference Friday at the Rose Garden Center in Tyler, she shared what’s being done on the national and local level to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She called the number of people facing food insecurity staggering as the demand swells and the supplies go downward.

National estimates show 53 million people could soon be food insecure because of the impact of the pandemic.
(Read more from Tyler Paper)

Pandemic causing spike in food insecurity

One of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic is a rise in food insecurity.

As a result, East Texas non-profits like the East Texas Food Bank have held distribution events to help feed those in need during this uncertain time.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, the CEO of the non-profit Feeding America, visited Tyler Friday for a distribution event. She says the East Texas Food Bank is a model organization for other food banks around the country.
(Read and watch from KYTX CBS19)

Weekly drive-thru distributions continue

In response to COVID-19, the East Texas Food Bank is holding a weekly drive-thru emergency food box distribution. We will be distributing emergency food boxes and fresh items (such as milk, produce and meat when available). The distributions will be at the East Texas State Fairgrounds every Friday from 10 am-12pm (while supplies last through the end of May.

The boxes are an added layer on top of the 21.3 million meals ETFB distributes every year. The boxes contain shelf-stable groceries such as dried beans, rice, pasta and canned meat, fruits and vegetables. Each box will provide items for 16 meals.

To receive a free box, community members just need to provide their name and address. There are no eligibility requirements or identification needed. It’s a drive-thru distribution, so please stay in your car and follow the traffic control guidance from the Tyler PD.

Multiple households can ride together. Each adult in the car will need to provide their name and address for the separate households. To pick up a box for someone who isn’t present, they will need to provide a written note with their household name, address, name of the person picking up the food for them and their signature.

Any family seeking food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic can click “Find Food” at the top of this page to find the closest resources near them.

If you want to financially support our work, please give at EastTexasFoodBank.org/DonateNow.

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En respuesta a COVID-19, el East Texas Food Bank está haciendo una distribución semanal de cajas de alimentos de emergencia. La ETFB distribuirá cajas de alimentos de emergencia y artículos frescos (como leche, productos y carne, cuando estén disponibles). Las distribuciones serán en el recinto ferial del East Texas todos los viernes de 10 am-12pm (mientras duren los suministros).

Las cajas son una capa añadida enlaciendo los 21,3 millones de comidas que ETFB distribuye cada año. Las cajas contienen alimentos estables en estanterías, como frijoles secos, arroz, pasta y carne enlatada, frutas y verduras. Cada caja incluye artículos para 16 comidas.

Para recibir una caja gratuita, los miembros de la comunidad solo necesitan proporcionar su nombre y dirección. No se necesitan requisitos de elegibilidad ni identificación. Es una distribución, así que por favor quédese en su auto y siga las instrucciones de control de tráfico de la policía de Tyler.

Varios hogares pueden viajar juntos. Cada adulto en el coche tendrá que proporcionar su nombre y dirección para los hogares separados. Para recoger una caja para alguien que no está presente, tendrá que presentar una nota escrita con su nombre de familia, dirección, nombre de la persona que recoge la comida para ellos y su firma.

Cualquier familia que busque ayuda alimentaria durante la pandemia COVID-19 puede visitar  www.EastTexasFoodBank.org y hacer clic en “encontrar alimentos” para obtener información sobre los recursos alimentarios más cercanos.