In the midst of economic damage and the closing of schools brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have been left wondering how they will feed themselves. 

The East Texas Food Bank has played a vital role in providing meals to families throughout the region, making adjustments to protocols and adapting to the needs of the community.

Bill Mohl, member of the board of directors of ETX Food Bank explained, “In response to COVID-19, the East Texas Food Bank immediately changed their service model to safely meet the need across its 26-county coverage area and implemented Drive-thru emergency box distributions at schools, partner agencies and community locations, launched a senior box home delivery program, and provided more financial and logistical support to partner agencies.”

During March and April, the East Texas Food Bank served over 78,000 families, provided more than 4.4 million meals and served 31,972 emergency food boxes, Mohl said.

The food bank received aid when Texas Army National Guardsmen were deployed there to ensure it could to safely meet the needs for food assistance, he said.

“In April of 2020, the East Texas Food Bank saw a 42% increase in the number of meals served, and a 74% increase in the number of families served.”

Some people who received aid have voiced their gratitude to organization.

’“I’m very grateful to receive the box of food.  I’m on a fixed income.  It’s very scary going into stores right now," said a senior citizen who received box shipments and gave his name as Bobby. "I’m diabetic, have heart problems so my doctor told me to stay home. I’m scared to go out.  All my appointments have been cancelled till June. They told me to stay home, get some fresh air but stay away from people. That’s what I’ve been trying to do."

A woman said the food she received have relieved a level of stress in her life after she lost her job.

“It’s very beneficial because I actually just lost my job because of the coronavirus.  I just started back to work yesterday so this is very helpful," she said. "It takes a lot of stress so that when money does come in, we can pay the bills and other things without worrying about food.” 

The board of the food bank extended to a resolution expressing its gratitude to all who have helped the food bank in its mission of helping feed people.

The resolution:

“The Board of Directors of the East Texas Food Bank would like to recognize and thank the following groups for their service, dedication and support of the Food Bank’s efforts to feed children, seniors and families throughout our East Texas service area, during the COVID-19 Pandemic: ETFB Leadership Team - including CEO Dennis Cullinane, CDO Donna Spann, COO Andrew Ayo, Human Resource Director Lynn Fosnaught, Finance Director Cassandra Johnson and Programs Director Tim Butler for their world class leadership and tireless efforts in providing guidance, direction and oversight of all ETFB operations.

ETFB Staff - including all part-time and full-time staff for their inexhaustible efforts and commitment in serving the food bank and its clients. These employees have unselfishly served our clients despite many personal challenges and risks.

Army National Guard - including Commander Steve Philpot as well as each and every Texas Guardsman who has served ETFB and its clients. This Unit has been instrumental in supporting the logistics and operations of the Food Bank and helping serve a record number of households during the pandemic.

ETFB Donors - for your overwhelming generosity and support of the Food Bank which has allowed us to serve record numbers of clients in need.

ETFB Volunteers - for your hard work and efforts to support our operation during this challenging time. Our efforts could not continue without your assistance and your willingness to put yourselves at risk to ensure our client’s needs are met.

Partnership Agencies - including Feeding America, Feeding Texas, partner pantries, soup kitchens and all other feeding programs which provide resources or distribute food to help those who struggle to put food on their tables.

East Texas Community - for providing resources, assistance and facilities to allow us to serve those in need.”