GUEST VIEW: The food bank keeps stepping up
By Craig Stoker
In 2015, the West Texas Food Bank (WTFB) moved to a brand new distribution center in Odessa. At the time, our production was about 3.7 million pounds of food per year. We saw steady growth in fiscal year 2020, when WTFB distributed approximately 6.7 million pounds of food. With the increased need due to the pandemic, in fiscal year 2021, WTFB distributed approximately 13 million pounds of food. We are still experiencing a high need, in fact over 3,000 new customers were served last month. Every program we offer has increases. Our Senior Box program served 2,002 people last month and we are on a waiting list. Kids Café sites serve more than 500 school-aged children per day.
With COVID getting smaller in our rear view mirror, we are settling into what we reluctantly call our new normal. We have seen our communities come together in times of crisis and we still cannot believe how lucky we are to live in a place where we value our neighbors and care for our own.
With the recent water crisis in Odessa, many have been forced to experience what some face on a daily basis, the lack of a basic necessity like water. While this is just an inconvenience for most citizens, at the West Texas Food Bank, it’s common to serve those struggling with more than just a dried up tap.
Since the beginning of June, we have seen our pantry lines grow steadily. We continue to see our neighbors make tough choices like putting gas in the car or putting food on the table. For some, these painful choices are part of a daily reality that they can’t make ends meet with the rising cost of inflation.
The price at the pump and the price of groceries affect us all. No one is immune to the current effects of rising inflation. Prices for everyday items like bacon, eggs and coffee have soared by 20% or more. For those who are budgeted to the last dollar, they cannot absorb the cost. Most choose to go without, as food is still something you can cut from the family budget.
But what about those who have no choice, the children and the elderly in our communities? How do those without budget flexibility continue to survive when fueling up to get to work takes the last of the cash? They turn to the West Texas Food Bank and our network of agency partners.
With the generous support of people like you and our Summer Match campaign, your donations can be doubled. We are so grateful to our friends at the Wayne and JoAnne Moore Charitable Foundation for matching all donations up to $100,000.
History has proven that when we need it most, the most beneficial way to support the food bank is through monetary donations. We understand that many of you who have supported us in the past face your own challenges, but your donations of time are simply invaluable to the Food Bank’s mission.
We hope you’ll take this opportunity to double your donation and help twice as many neighbors who are struggling to put food on their tables. Your continued support is humbling, and the West Texas Food Bank team will continue to serve our 19 counties with dignity and pride because of your support.
Craig Stoker is director of marketing and communications at the West Texas Food Bank.