East Texas Food Bank Recognizes Hunger Hero Award Recipients

  • HH23 Nichols

The East Texas Food Bank (ETFB) honored four recipients today with the fourth annual Hunger Hero Awards as part of Hunger Action Month.

Hunger Hero Awards were given to State Senator Robert Nichols- Senate District 3 (Individual Supporter), Tyler High School and Tyler Legacy High School with Tyler ISD (Community Partner Organization), Datamax Inc. (Corporate Partner) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Ministry Partner).

“This group of honorees exemplifies the commitment needed in the fight against hunger,” said David Emerson, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “Record numbers of East Texans are seeking help to feed their families because of inflation. ETFB gave out 27 million meals to 151,000 households in our past fiscal year.”

Individual Supporter

Texas Senator Robert Nichols with Senate District 3 was instrumental in pushing through food bank priorities. The legislation and funding passed during the 88th Texas legislative session will help alleviate food insecurity across the state.

Community Partner Organization

For 33 years, Tyler ISD’s Tyler High School and Tyler Legacy High School students have participated in their own fundraiser for ETFB’s BackPack program by raising funds and food with the annual Pantry Raid.

Corporate Partner

Datamax Inc. regularly volunteers with ETFB and gives monetary donations. They also make sure their customers know about our programs by giving out information on their voicemail.

Ministry Partner

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided dozens of volunteers during an emergency food drive after the ice storm power outages in Smith County this year. Church members also volunteer every week. In addition, the church donated 42,000 pounds of food to ETFB.

ETFB presented the awards during Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month, held each year in September, to inspire the community to take action and bring attention to hunger in East Texas and the nation.

According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, 1 in 7 East Texans including 1 in 5 children are hungry. This amounts to 188,530 adults including 63,260 children.

Feeding Texas Network Backs Major Hunger-Fighting Wins During 2023 Legislative Session

With support of the Feeding Texas network of food banks, the Texas Legislature passed several new laws that will prevent hunger for Texans experiencing food insecurity.
“This year’s legislative session was our most successful since Texas food banks came together as a network over 20 years ago to engage state lawmakers in the fight against hunger,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “We were honored to have overwhelming bipartisan support for these anti-hunger policies. Regardless of political affiliation, we can agree that food should not be an impossible choice.”

“We enjoyed being part of the process this year and taking a team from the East Texas Food Bank to visit with our East Texas legislators in Austin to impact the successful passage of these bills,” said Dennis Cullinane, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “The passage of these bills will help more East Texans access the food they need.”

Three bills passed this legislative session along with increased funding for food distribution.
1. Update the SNAP Vehicle Asset Test (HB 1287): Texas uses a vehicle asset test to determine SNAP eligibility, placing limits on the value of the vehicles a household may own and still qualify for the program. HB 1287 makes a one-time inflationary adjustment to the Vehicle Asset Test to better reflect today’s car values, increasing limits from $15,000 to $22,500 for the first car and from $4650 to $8700 for additional vehicles. The bill was authored by Rep. Ryan Guillen and sponsored by Sen. Cesar Blanco.

2. Implementing pre-release SNAP registration (HB 1743): Early access to SNAP benefits ensures formerly incarcerated Texans have immediate resources for food so they can begin rebuilding their lives and reduce recidivism. HB 1743 supports people exiting the criminal justice system by allowing eligible individuals to apply for SNAP before their release so they have access to food upon release. The bill was authored by Rep. Jeff Leach and sponsored by Sen. Royce West.

3. Increasing funds for produce rescue: The Surplus Agricultural Products Grant helps food banks rescue surplus or unsellable produce from Texas farmers for distribution to hungry Texans. One hundred percent of program funds go to farmers and transportation providers to offset the cost of harvesting, storage, packaging and freight. The network achieved a $10.2 million increase in funding for the Surplus Agricultural Products Grant, doubling funds to $20.4 million for the biennium. This is a win-win-win for hungry Texans, farmers, and the environment.

4. Exempting state transportation-related taxes and fees for food banks (HB 3599): State transportation-related fees are significant food bank expenses. HB 3599 will give food banks an exemption from fuel taxes and registration for their fleets, meaning food banks can reinvest those costs into feeding their communities. The bill was authored by Rep. Shawn Thierry and sponsored by Sen. Chuy Hinojosa.

“These legislative victories represent the hard work of many different stakeholders and are responsive to the needs expressed by our communities,” Cole said. “We are grateful to our bill authors, anti-hunger advocates, and all of the organizations that came together to help get these priorities across the finish line. From small, rural communities to major metropolitan areas, these new laws will help feed Texas families and support food banks across the state. While the fight for food security continues, we’re one step closer to a hunger-free Texas.”
Governor Gregg Abbott signed HB 1287, HB 1743, and HB 3599 into law this month. The new laws take effect September 1, 2023.

East Texas Food Bank to Hold Special Distributions This Week To Help East Texans Impacted By Power Outages

The East Texas Food Bank (ETFB) will distribute fresh produce and emergency food boxes at multiple locations in East Texas this week to assist East Texans impacted by the power outages.

Last week’s severe weather storm caused widespread power outages and damage, with several East Texas counties being part of the state’s disaster declaration.

“Many of our neighbors are having to throw away all of their refrigerated food after being without power for days, and with so many people struggling, we knew we needed to help,” said Dennis Cullinane, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank.

The emergency boxes contain shelf-stable food including cans of food and personal hygiene items.

H-E-B Bringing Food to East Texas

H-E-B, based in San Antonio, plans to bring a trailer to East Texas this week loaded with dry goods to help in ETFB’s relief effort.

“We are so grateful that H-E-B is providing us with thousands of meals to help so many East Texans impacted by these storms,” said Cullinane. “We will distribute this food as soon as it comes into our warehouse through our mobile pantries and pantry partners.”

“H-E-B is glad we are able to work with the East Texas Food Bank to help support the communities and neighbors displaced by the storms,” said Danny Flores, H-E-B Public Affairs.

Distribution Locations

Tuesday, June 20, 10-11:30 a.m. at the Gladewater Rodeo Arena- U.S. Hwy 80

Wednesday, June 21, 10-11:30 a.m. in Quitman at the Bud Moody Stadium on Bud Morris Ave.

Wednesday, June 21, 4-5:30 p.m. in Mt. Vernon at Sacred Heart Catholic Church located at 406 Hwy 37

Thursday, June 22, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Avinger at Lake O’ the Pines Baptist Church at 9046 FM 729

Friday, June 23, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in Longview at the Gregg County Fairgrounds (Enter from Cotton St.)

The distributions are open to the public while supplies last. No ID or paperwork is required.

East Texas Food Bank Announces David Emerson as new Chief Executive Officer

David Emerson

The East Texas Food Bank (ETFB) announced today that David Emerson has been named the new Chief Executive Officer.

“We are pleased that David will become our sixth CEO in our 35 year history,” said Jeff Johnston, chair of the ETFB board. “We wanted someone who understands food banking and his previous non-profit experience in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area will be a great benefit to this organization.”

Emerson has more than 20 years of senior leadership experience and most recently served as the Executive Director of the Midwest Food Bank.

“I have a heart for feeding the community,” said Emerson. “I grew up in southern Arkansas and saw the need. I have a desire to continue the mission of the East Texas Food Bank and to address food insecurity in this region and especially in the rural communities. I hope to continue providing healthy and nutritious food and more produce to our neighbors. It’s also important to build on the partnerships we have with agencies.”

Emerson helped to restart operations for the Midwest Food Bank in Texas, increased revenue from $9 million to $25 million and grew the operations from 40 agency partners to 100 in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.Emerson also has extensive non-profit experience with the American Red Cross in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Henderson State University in Arkansas and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia International University in South Carolina.

Current ETFB CEO Dennis Cullinane will retire at the end of June after 13 years with the food bank.

East Texas Food Bank receives donation to help with summer food program

JCLDS Donation

Thirty-eight thousand pounds of mixed goods will be delivered to The East Texas Food Bank, located at 3201 Robertson Road on Thursday, June 1 at 9 a.m. The 25 pallets of food weighing more than 38,000 pounds are being donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help aid those families who suffer from food insecurity over the summer months.

The East Texas Food Bank has a 26-county service area and aids several smaller banks throughout the region. This donation will be a great asset to communities throughout East Texas trying to feed children while school is out.

In addition to this donation, the Church also regularly supports the ongoing mobile distributions through JustServe.org. The Church posts volunteer opportunities for the community in partnership with the bank to gather volunteers to pass food out to residents across East Texas. Members and missionaries of the Church are part of the core group of regular volunteers for the mobile distribution effort.

“We are committed to easing the burden of food insecurity across East Texas,” says President Charles Rhodus, who leads the Tyler Texas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “In following Christ’s example of Jesus Christ in caring for those in need we are grateful for the opportunity to help our neighbors.”

The donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is part of its ongoing global effort to care for the hungry. The Church is committed to serving smaller, rural communities that may have difficulty getting food due to employment issues, inflation, and high cost of childcare.

This donation to East Texas Food Bank will help aid those in need of basic necessities. The donation of mixed canned and boxed goods will include vegetables, chili, fruit, beef, peanut butter, dried milk, as well as numerous other items.

“We are so thankful for this generous donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Dennis Cullinane, CEO of the East Texas Food Bank. “We continue to see an increased need for food due to inflation and the end of extra pandemic SNAP benefits in Texas. This food will go a long way in helping us feed our neighbors.”

In May this year, the Church donated 38,000 pounds of food to Titus County Cares, in Mt. Pleasant, TX and in March donated to Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana. In 2020, the Church approved more than 100 relief projects in more than 50 countries to help with pandemic relief. Most of these humanitarian projects are done with trusted partners, such as The East Texas Food Bank, which allows the Church to use its resources in places where they can do the most good. The Church also made a sizeable food donation after the severe winter storms.

The East Texas Food Bank was selected based on its connection with the community, ongoing relief efforts, fantastic leadership, organized processes, and adequate unloading equipment. Because 25 pallets of food are scheduled for delivery on a 53-foot trailer, the selected site also needed space to store all of the goods. In addition, it was important for the Church to select a food bank that also serves smaller food banks without high charges or delivery fees.