“We appreciate everything that you have done to help us.”

Rosie

“I got up this morning about 3:30 a.m. and made it here at 4:18 a.m. to be second in line,” Rosie recently told us when we met her at an emergency food distribution. Being an early riser, it was no problem for her and her friendly personality to be in line that early for a 10 a.m. distribution.

Rosie is just one of the thousands of people who have relied on the East Texas Food Bank and our food pantry partners to help them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Rosie said the food is important to help feed her and her mom.

“Both my mom and I are heart patients,” Rosie said. She added that with her pre-existing condition it makes it more difficult to go out now.  “I wanted to make sure we had the things we needed, so I was able to get boxes for both of us.”

Rosie was very grateful to be able to receive the food during the distribution.

“I thank the East Texas Food Bank for providing the food for us,” she said. “We appreciate everything that you have done to help us.”

With 1 in 4 East Texans facing hunger due to COVID-19, our hunger-relief work is far from over. But thanks to the outpouring of support from the community, we can keep feeding more East Texans like Rosie.

Anyone seeking food assistance can click the “FIND FOOD” at the top of the page to find the closest resource to them.

To support families like Rosie’s, click here to join the fight against hunger.

Volunteers help fight hunger and feed hope during COVID-19 pandemic

Volunteers are an essential part to helping the East Texas Food Bank continue our mission of “fighting hunger and feeding hope in East Texas”.  They have played a much more vital role recently as we have been distributing even more food due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic everyone is facing.

One of our great volunteers, Bertha Viramontes, has been helping with the Tyler produce distribution held at the East Texas State Fairgrounds twice a month for almost a year.

“I’ve seen that there are a lot of people that need food,” she said.  “It’s been good to help others and give them food for their tables.”

Bertha said she sees people smiling and saying thank you often while she is working.

“You get to know people and their situations,” she said.

While COVID-19 has not affected Bertha or her family personally, she understands the hardships many she sees during the distribution are facing.

“Food is getting much more expensive and then you may have (purchase) limits,” she said.

Bertha encourages anyone who wants to help to contact the food bank to find out how to volunteer.

“At the end of the day, you will feel good helping.”

If you would like to volunteer with the East Texas Food Bank, click here to find out more information.

“We feel like someone cares here.”

For the past three months, the East Texas Food Bank has held drive-thru distributions in cities all over our 26 county service area.  The distributions were developed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and we saw an immediate, increased demand for families affected by job loss, school closures and shutdowns.   In fact, between March and May 2020 the East Texas Food Bank provided 6.8 million meals to over 112,000 families.  This is a 40% increase compared to 2019.

Even as Texas begins to reopen and people start returning to work, the need for food assistance is still great.  Texas is dealing with the highest unemployment rate since 1986, and new data from Feeding America indicates that 1 in 3 children in East Texas is facing hunger now.  This is up from 1 in 4 children last year.

We met Binu at the weekly distribution in Tyler recently.  He, his wife and two children are new not only East Texas, but to the United States, arriving during an unprecedented pandemic affecting the country.

“We waited 14 years in India for our immigrant green card,” Binu told us.  “We started (the process) in 2006 and learned a lot of patience.”

Once Binu’s family was here, the pandemic created more problems for them.

“A lot of the offices were closed so we couldn’t get our assistance,” he said.

Binu told us he had been coming to the weekly distribution for the last few weeks, and that the items he received helped tremendously.

“We will not waste any food items,” he said.  “So many are struggling for food in the world.”

It’s a struggle Binu says he has seen in India first hand.

“The problem is there and people are suffering a lot,” he said. “We don’t have all of this in India.  We feel like someone cares here. I saw the military serving and police supporting us.  I’m so proud of that.”

Binu said he was so thankful to the East Texas Food Bank, volunteers and donors who help to support families like his during these times.

“Giving food to somebody is the biggest charity you can do a person,” he 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.”

If you would like to support East Texas families like Binu’s, click here to give.

Summer Food Program continues to serve meals despite COVID-19

Did you know that 1 in 3 East Texas children are facing hunger this summer?

The East Texas Food Bank’s Summer Food Program is underway at 21 sites throughout our East Texas service area to help feed those hungry children.

The program serves children under 18 during the time when they no longer have access to free and reduced meals and snacks that they receive during the school year. Since these programs end when school does, the Summer Food Service Program helps fill the hunger gap ensuring that children continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer.

Normally, children can enjoy their meals from the program at places like schools, parks and other recreational facilities with their friends. This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that.

Instead of children staying at the site to eat as in years past, they can pick up their meals and return to home.

“There definitely is an impact this year,” said Lexi Tremble, Summer Food Site Supervisor for Andrew’s Park in Tyler. “It’s an interesting time for families because usually they come and we have activities and get to engage with the kids. We can’t have the full extent of our program, but we are still feeding them and they are grateful for that.”

Another change for this year is that children pick up both a lunch for that day and a breakfast for the next morning. On the day we visited Andrews Park, over 30 meals were distributed.

“The parents and the kids love they are getting both meals at the same time,” Tremble said adding that St. Paul’s Children Foundation also participates in a summer backpack program that provides extra meals over the weekend on Fridays.

“We’ve received so many positive remarks from parents about how important and necessary that is for their kids,” she said.

Parents like Rita, whose 2 year-old, energetic son Romeo was playing at the park on a hot, summer day, said the meals will be helpful.

“It’s convenient,” Rita said adding that it was her first time to visit the site. “I drove by, saw the sign and he saw kids playing and got excited.”

Rita said she was sure she and Romeo would be back to participate again in the program on their park visit.

Tremble shared that despite the challenges faced this year, the East Texas Food Bank has done a great job.

“We are so grateful to the food bank,” she said. “Just me being able to see the kids come, get excited about meals, getting to interact with them and talk about how important this meal is for them. Thank you for allowing us at St. Paul’s to provide those meals.”

For more information about the Summer Food Program and locations near you, visit EastTexasFoodBank.org/SummerFood.

If you would like to financially support our work and help provide for the 1 in 3 East Texans children facing hunger, please give at EastTexasFoodBank.org/DonateNow.