Johnnie says thank you for helping her provide meals for her grandchildren

Johnnie- Blog Story

Many of our East Texas seniors are facing hunger today. They make tough decisions on whether to pay for needed medications, utility bills or purchase food. In addition, many are also now caring for other family members.

We met Johnnie at an East Texas Food Bank partner agency recently as she was picking up food. She told us that she is taking care of her four grandchildren, ranging in age from 7 to 10 years old.

“I’m a pretty good grandparent,” Johnnie shared with us. “I work almost every day, six days a week. I don’t make a lot of money, but I want what’s best for the grandkids. You know, I want them to have better than what I had.”

Johnnie said that she started visiting the pantry because the food stamps she received just wasn’t enough.

“When I come here, the food items I get really help us,” she said. “I’m able to pay a few more bills and make sure the kids have clothes on their backs. It’s reliving for sure.”

Johnnie said she loves when fresh produce is available like strawberries, oranges and apples.

“It’s always a good variety,” she said. “Everyone here is so helpful.”

Johnnie encourages other seniors like her to reach out if they need help.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “You just have to get up and go get it. I am so thankful. I want to say thank you because we are blessed there are places like this and the food bank that will help.”

Learn more about how the East Texas Food Bank is helping seniors today through our Senior Box Program.

Celebrating Black History Month

The East Texas Food Bank celebrates Black History Month by recognizing East Texans and their contributions to our rich heritage. Each week during February, we will spotlight these historic figures.

James Farmer, Jr.

James Farmer Jr. was born in Marshall, TX in 1920. He became a leader in the civil rights movement to dismantle segregation and was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin was born in 1868 and grew up in Texarkana. He wrote 40 ragtime pieces and in 1899 published “Maple Leaf Rag” which brought him instant fame. Many years after his death his music was rediscovered and an album sold millions of copies in the 1970s, plus his composition, “The Entertainer” won an Oscar for best original song score and he received the Pulitzer Prize for music.


Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman was born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. In 1921, she became the first black woman to obtain her pilot license.
During her air show tours, she fought against segregation and encouraged other black Americans to follow her path and become pilots. Bessie died in 1926 in a plane crash at the age of 34.


Arthur “Dooley” Wilson

Arthur “Dooley” Wilson was born in Tyler in 1886. He became a successful actor in plays in Chicago and New York with his breakthrough role in 1940 in the Broadway musical “Cabin in the Sky.” He appeared in 19 movies including his famous role as “Sam” in the 1942 Oscar Best Movie “Casablanca.”

Marsha turned to food pantry when she “didn’t have anything”

Marsha - Blog Story

We met Marsha while she was visiting an East Texas Food Bank pantry partner. She lives alone now since her family moved to Dallas.

“I love to be around my family and like to travel,” she said. Marsha has two girls and two grandchildren.

Marsha retired in 2014 after years of being a cake decorator at a grocery store. She said with her current health conditions it has become much tougher to afford food and medications.

“I’m diabetic, have high blood pressure and arthritis,” she said.

Marsha said that she visited the pantry the first time because she was out of food at home. She also didn’t want to burden her children because “they are trying to take care of their kids too.”

“I didn’t have anything and a friend of mine said to go down there and they will help you,” she said. “I came here, got groceries and was so happy.”

Of the food items she received, Marsha was glad to have some healthy items to help with her diabetes.

“The healthy food helps a lot,” she said. “I can’t tell the difference in the taste, so it’s really the same to me.”

Marsha is appreciative of everyone that helps the East Texas Food Bank and at the pantries.

“There are some loving, kind people and they take time out of their lives to help us,” she said. “Without them, we couldn’t make it. We’d be hungry so I thank you so much.”

If you would like to help families like Marsha’s that the East Texas Food Bank works to feed each day, you can make a donation onlinevolunteer with us or host a virtual food drive.

“It felt like Christmas. Even better when I opened the box and saw all the food.”

Mail delivery is always an exciting time for us here at the East Texas Food Bank. Not only do we receive generous gifts from our donors and supporters, we also get letters from families that have been helped by our partner food pantries and feeding programs. Today, we wanted to share one of these letters in their own words:

“Just wanted to tell you of my experience with the East Texas Food Bank. I was trying to pay off bills – I do not do owing money well. Every month I have made myself a very tight budget. My friend encouraged me to go to the food bank so I would have food and not have a big food bill. Maybe not the best reason. I would not have starved. While I was in line, (my friend) stayed on the phone with me so I would not ‘chicken out’. I have never done this before. This is what I experienced.

Fear of being judged – I was not judged. Humility, gratitude followed. Workers were so kind and joyous. At one point, I teared up because I was touched. I was uncomfortable to ask them not to put sweets in the box since I have diabetes. They did not make me feel bad. They gave me nuts which I can eat.

I live alone. It felt like Christmas. Even better when I opened the box and saw all the food. Not one thing did I not use.

I realized also from my friend that there is a culture around receiving this food. My friend shares with others that need it – as I have been a blessed recipient of the blessings. All of a sudden, I was cooking and looking up recipes and got out of the ‘dump’ I was in emotionally.

I thank you for the food ‘mission’ you are on. I was able to share with others and I was blessed!”

Letters like this are why we work every day in our mission of fighting hunger and feeding hope. You can help us by making a gift, volunteering or having a virtual food drive.

“Our fridge is bare…but there’s a place that I can go to.”

Franc - Blog Story

“I know that when I’m in a tough spot, when I have a choice between paying water bills and groceries, there’s a place that I can go to.”

That’s what Franc shared with us when he visited an East Texas Food Bank pantry partner. Franc lives with his sister, her three children, and his grandfather who came to live with him after a health scare..

“I’ve been taking care of him after he had heart failure last year,” Fran said. “I went to see him in New York and thought we were going to have to bury him with how sick he was. But he survived, and I told him that it would be good for him to come back to East Texas with me.”

Franc works a warehouse job, but finds that money can be short at times with his busy household.

“I’m thankful for the job I have, but right now our fridge is bare,” he said. “That’s why I decided to come here (to the pantry) today. This is gonna give me that push until the weekend to allow me to get more funds and fill the fridge on my own.”

Franc said that the pantry always provides him plenty of options to help his family.

“They offer us a lot of vegetables, fruits and snack packs,” he said. “I know once the kids come home, they will have a snack today. That’s a good feeling.”

Franc also said that if anyone is struggling to provide for their family, they should check into food pantries where they live. “It makes a big difference,” he said. “They are not gonna turn anyone away that’s hungry or in need.”

Finally, Franc wanted to share his appreciation for those that help his family.

“They are helping people in the community that really need it like myself,” he said. “It’s a big thank you!”

If you would like to help families like Franc’s that the East Texas Food Bank works to feed each day, you can make a donation online, volunteer with us or host a virtual food drive.