Thank you for helping Jennifer get back on her feet
Hello. I’m Jennifer. This is my second trip ever to the East Texas Food Bank. My family never needed their help before, but then businesses started shutting down. Like a lot of folks around here, I lost my job really suddenly.
We tried to make ends meet for a while, but without my pay coming in, it was hard. There came a point when we just had to make the call: If we don’t ask for help, we’re going to go hungry.
So we came to a drive-through food distribution that was happening near us—and wow. I was blown away by how easy they made everything. It still broke my heart to see so many people lined up to get help, but the staff here are wonderful. They have a kind word for every last one of us.
We picked up a big load of milk, eggs, fresh produce and other basics that first time, and today, we got another couple weeks’ worth. We’re so appreciative—it really takes a lot of stress off!
There’s more good news: I just went back to work yesterday, so this food will help us get by until I get my first couple of paychecks. Then I hope we won’t have to use this resource so some of our other neighbors can benefit from it instead.
Thank you so much for helping my family get through this!
Black History Month: Hunger Heroes
During Black History Month in February, the East Texas Food Bank wanted to celebrate the stories of both national and local Black “Hunger Heroes” who help our neighbors keep food on the table all year-round.
The Honorable Shirley Chisholm
Many Americans know the Honorable Shirley Chisholm as the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress in 1968. Paving the way for Black women in U.S. politics, Representative Chisholm (D-NY) also played an essential role in the creation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), ensuring that low-income mothers everywhere could access free, healthy food for their young children. (information courtesy of FRAC)
Chris Thompson. ETFB Volunteer
Chris has been volunteering for about three years, helping with our produce distributions in Tyler. After working with the Department of Public Safety for 27 years, Chris told us volunteering allows him to continue to serve the community.
“Volunteering is so valuable,” Chris said. “You are serving the person and also you are fulfilling yourself. I’m proud to say I’m a part of the food bank.”
“I really love helping people and especially children since they can’t advocate for themselves,” says Valencia Watson, East Texas Food Bank Child Hunger Programs Manager. “That’s what brought me here. I can do some ‘hands-on’ with being able to help families and children.”
Valencia joined the East Texas Food Bank almost seven years ago and has worked in our Child Hunger Programs since her first day. While she loves all the programs she supervises, the Summer Food Program is her favorite.
“You can expand to so many different cities and have kids from all over that come to get food from parks and other areas,” she said. “It’s a way for more kids to be fed, which is great!”
“You are helping people more than you think”
On a sunny day recently, we met John at one of our monthly drive-thru produce distributions. He told us it wasn’t his first visit, but he really preferred our drive-thru method we have been using during the pandemic.
“I’ve been to some other food pantries in town and there was a lot of sitting and waiting,” he told us. “I can’t really do that being disabled like I am.”
John said he just started receiving disability benefits last year, and while “it ain’t much” it is at least some help for him.
“The food I get here helps me out and it saves my grocery money that I can put towards other bills,” he said. “It’s nice getting milk and eggs when we get those. They have gotten high.”
John wanted to thank everyone who helps in the distribution and allows him to receive nutritious food.
“You are helping people more than you think,” he said.
Recently, Mark Robinson with Southwestern Electric Power Company, toured the East Texas Food Bank and made a generous donation. He was so struck by what he saw, that he wanted to share his experience with us.
“I was quite pleased when the American Electric Power Foundation approved our funding request for holiday hunger programs in the East Texas area. One of our best regional partners for facilitating these types of programs is the East Texas Food Bank. While I always enjoy the large check presentation, what really impressed me was the “behind the scenes” facility tour. I viewed their nutritious cooking training program, their after school backpack program, and their large order palletizing process. With great passion, the staff communicated the overwhelming need, the role of proper nutrition and the importance of their client’s dignity.
As we passed the packaging section, I saw several dented cereal boxes and was struck by a memory from my youth. Usually, our family would buy the damaged discount products to make our finances stretch. But, I specifically remember going to the cupboards in our home and having no food to eat. I remember the pain in my parent’s voice when they informed us we didn’t have the money to buy food. I can still mentally return to our family huddle where we prayed for provision. I distinctly recall to love of neighbors and friends who met us in our need and gave us three car loads of groceries. To a young child, it was like Christmas!
As I left the East Texas Food Bank, I was reminded how blessed I am to work for a company provides a stable income for my family while investing in the communities it serves. It truly is the culture of our employees to reach out a helping hand when presented with a need. I’m looking forward to 2021, but 2020 held a lot of truth for me.”
Their generous donation will provide up to 320,000 for East Texas children, families and seniors facing huger. Mark added “If this year you have been blessed with extra, please consider finding a family in need and paying it forward.” If you would like to donate to the East Texas Food Bank, click here. Every $1 donated provides up to 8 meals for our neighbors in need.
5 Hopeful Stories in 2020 from the East Texas Food Bank
As this year comes to a close, we took a look back at the stories of hope that inspired us during these tough months of 2020. While COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on our communities, we are grateful for the staff, volunteers, donors, partner agencies and supporters who have come together to feed hope for our neighbors in need. Here’s a look at 5 hopeful stories from 2020.
Longview ISD middle school students write original cookbook, proceeds benefit East Texas Food Bank
It’s the season of giving and a group of students at Longview ISD’s Judson Middle School are getting into the spirit. They wrote a cookbook and decided to sell them to the community and use the funds they raised to help feed local families in need.
Texas National Guard arrives at the East Texas Food Bank
In April, we were thankful to have the Texas Army National Guard arrive and were the official “boots on the ground” at the East Texas Food Bank. The guardsmen ensured that we continued to safely meet the need for food assistance in our 26-county coverage area. They supported our production of emergency food boxes and distribution and transportation tasks as long during our pandemic response.
Being a light in a time of need
Coby volunteered with us to help distribute food during several of our produce distributions in Tyler. The effects of the pandemic left him out of work for a period of time, so he felt the need to give back. “From talking to people in our community here, I have realized what dark times this is for so many. I hope people see there is a light and that you can help someone in need,” Coby told us. You can read more of Coby’s story here.
“We feel like someone cares here.”
We met Binu at the weekly distribution in Tyler this year. He, his wife and two children were new not only East Texas, but to the United States, arriving during an unprecedented pandemic affecting the country after a 14 year process. “Giving food to somebody is the biggest charity you can do a person,” Binu said. “We all need food and water to survive so those who are providing this kind of thing is big. Nothing is better in the world.”You can read more of Binu’s story here.
Providing #OneLessWorry in partnership with St. Paul Children’s Foundation
Due to pandemic, many of our partner agencies had to quickly switch how they were distributing food to families in need in order to prevent exposure to the virus. For St. Paul Children’s Foundation in Tyler, this meant moving from a “client choice” pantry to drive-thru service. Operations Supervisor Wyatt Bynum chatted with us about how the pantry is still helping in the community.