West Texas Food Bank sees progression throughout 2018
In 2018, the West Texas Food Bank distributed six million pounds of food — 1.2 million of which was fresh produce.
Craig Stoker, communications director for the West Texas Food Bank, said a contributing factor in distributing that food and fresh produce was because of the Disaster Response Mobile Pantry.
The mobile pantry started in May and handed out 75,796 pounds to 1,300 clients in Ector, Midland, Andrews, Brewster and Winkler counties.
“When it’s not in disaster mode, it is helping us do outreach in the community,” Stoker said.
Stoker said the mobile pantry made its biggest impact when the Eastside Church of Christ in Kermit, which was previously served as the only distribution hub for the West Texas Food Bank in Winkler County, burned down in June.
The mobile pantry has a generator that powers refrigerators and freezers. It is also capable of serving around 200 families when fully stocked.
The mobile pantry allows the West Texas Food Bank to bring food to the consumer, which Stoker said is beneficial as rent prices increase and people that need the service are moving out to West Odessa.
“If you can’t afford to live in Odessa, you are moving out to the west side,” Stoker said. “It’s nice to have the mobile pantry to go out, so they don’t have to waste their resources like gas. If you have to use that to get to work, then you don’t have the luxury of driving 15 miles over to the food bank or whatever their closest pantry and then go back.”
In addition to the mobile pantry, the West Texas Food Bank also supported the area with 37,000 Food 2 Kids bags provided to more than 1,200 children, 89,000 Kids Café meals and snacks served to children at 14 locations, food relief boxes and produce delivered monthly to nine locations, Senior Box program, four secondary school pantries and Food 2 Babies Formula program which is in collaboration with WIC.
Stoker said he also wanted to thank the volunteers of the West Texas Food Bank.
In 2018, there were 3,398 volunteers that donated 19,797 hours which Stoker said the IRS amounts to more than $455,000.
“The time in 2017 was just over 18,000 hours, so people have been coming more and staying longer,” Stoker said.
Though it was a strong 2018 campaign, Stoker hopes the program continues to build next year.
Stoker said the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the farm bill, will allow the West Texas Food Bank more funds to transport produce from the Rio Grande Valley to the Permian Basin.
“We are excited that there are some new provisions in the new farm bill that are going to help us with transportation dollars to get more produce up here,” he said. “We are certainly hoping to expand that program by getting more fresh food out.”