Fresh produce helps Keith’s family in a time of need

For many of our East Texas neighbors who struggle with hunger, the COVID-19 pandemic placed an additional amount of stress on their families and limited budgets. With 1 in 5 East Texans, including 1 in 3 children, facing hunger today, the need for food assistance remains high.

We met Keith recently at one of our drive-thru produce distributions. He shared with us that it was his first time to receive help.

“I’ve been cut back at my restaurant job to bare minimum hours,” Keith said. “I went from 40+ hours a week to 20 to 25 hours. I’m blessed to be working at all, but that really strains my pocketbook.”

Keith lives with his wife and mother at home. Fortunately, none of them had been directly affected by the COVID-19 virus.

“My sister got COVID and several of my church members had it,” he said adding that his sister is much better now. “It was all around me, but we wanted to be especially careful because my mother is 77 years old.”

Keith told us he was very appreciative of receiving the fresh, healthy produce from the distribution, and can’t wait to use it.

“It’s a good thing for people like me who need it,” he said. “I appreciate it. My family appreciates it. Thank you to everyone that makes it possible.”

If you would like to help families like Keith’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.

Your generosity keeps us nimble in the fight against hunger

When hunger skyrocketed last spring, friends like you responded. Together, you and the East Texas Food Bank served more neighbors than ever using a new drive-through model. When the food supply chain lagged, you were there with funds to fill the gap.

Thank you. Your generosity truly is the key to keeping us prepared in the ever-changing fight against hunger.

This spring, we need your help once again, as 1 in 5 East Texans continues to struggle. Recovery is slow for neighbors like Kaprenai and her husband, whose employment recently took a hit.

“I’m not working right now, and my husband isn’t working as much as he used to,” shares this local mom. “Our income just dropped suddenly.”

Kaprenai worried they wouldn’t be able to afford nutritious food for their young children. Then, she and her husband discovered a nearby food distribution…and their anxiety evaporated. You helped give them a food box full of fresh fruits and vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, dairy and more.

“This food will help out a lot,” Kaprenai smiles.

If you would like to help families like Kaprenai that the East Texas Food Bank serves each day, you can make a gift online, volunteer with us or have a virtual food drive for your business or organization.

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.”

Valencia Watson, ETFB Child Hunger Programs Manager

“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.

1 in 5 East Texans like John are facing hunger today. You can be the 1 to help in 2021 when you donate money, volunteer or hold a virtual food drive for the East Texas Food Bank.