enterprise

Local food banks seeing strain on supplies – Beaumont Enterprise


With the holiday season’s lights and family gatherings also comes acts of generosity and communities coming together to make sure the vulnerable are cared for.

That usually takes the form of food drives and volunteer work with organizations like the Southeast Texas Food Bank, which supplies dozens of food pantries and feed programs across multiple counties with literal tons of pounds of food.

This year, community food drives are going to be even more crucial for the food bank’s mission, which also means donors should consider helping smarter to make sure non-profit organizations don’t have to work harder.


Southeast Texas Food Bank President and CEO Barbara Newhouse said holiday food drives will be vital this year to not only make sure the food bank can supply enough holiday-related items for Christmas dinners across the region, but to bridge the gap left by pressure on the national supply chain.

“The issue with a shortage of workers at production facilities and a shortage of truck drivers means food can be harder to get and even harder to deliver,” Newhouse said.

She said the chaos impacting the national economy has also created a system where sometimes the food bank has to accept what it can get from the national Feeding America network that supports regional food banks and hope it’s prepared whenever it comes.

Food banks like the one in Southeast Texas have to walk a tight-rope of logistics, making sure it has enough food coming in to meet demands while also making sure enough food is constantly streaming out so it has space in its refrigerated storage units for fresh product.

“Sometimes you get what you get, which is why we rely on our excellent professionals in nutrition education that come up with creative recipes to use some of those more unusual items we get,” Newhouse said.

Support from the community, especially during the winter months, can be critical for the foodbank, which serves a region ranked fourth in the nation for food insecurity, according to Newhouse.

The pandemic created even more need during the associated economic downturn, as well as this current period of strained recovery.

In 2020, the Southeast Texas Food Bank distributed 10.8 million pounds of food to clients across the region.

The food bank is still seeing high demand this year, despite moderate signs of economic recovery.

Outside of the holiday staples, the most-needed food bank items usually include proteins like canned fish or beans, peanut butter, grains like pasta and rice, canned fruits and vegetables and bottled water.

Newhouse said it can sometimes seem unusual to volunteers and donors that food banks have guidelines about what should be donated and what condition the items should be in, but it usually makes more sense when they consider how food has to get from a collection box to the dinner table of someone in need.

The food bank not only has to ensure that the items are safe to consume and there is a diverse array of foods to meet dietary needs and restrictions for some of its clients, but it also has to make sure that they’re in a form that is easy for its army of volunteers to quickly and safely sort.

The warehouse at the Southeast Texas Food Bank housed inside a former industrial bakery looks like a factory floor, especially when volunteers are sorting and packing items on its lines, but –at the end of the day– the workers of this factory aren’t trained professionals manning the warehouse day-in and day-out.

They are volunteers putting in their time to help out and making sure each package of food delivered is safe and useful to the recipient.

Newhouse said that’s why it’s important that donors looking to collect food for the food bank consider reaching out first so they can receive a little guidance and join with the network of resources at the food bank’s disposal.

“It avoids situations that can otherwise be frustrating, like if you decided you wanted to have your own food drive and then arrived with all glass jars,” she said. “I couldn’t accept those because I have to keep my volunteers safe and it wouldn’t be optimal for deliveries.”

Corporate partners like Waitr are stepping up with its team of local restaurants to help make food collection a little easier for customers and the food bank with its annual food drive.

During the holiday, the food delivery service will collect non-perishable food items from Beaumont-area restaurants and bring them to the food bank on behalf of their customers and the small businesses helping support feeding programs.

Drop-off boxes for the Waitr Holiday Food Drive are available at the following locations:

New York Pizza & Pasta (4405 Calder Avenue, Beaumont)

Floyd’s Cajun Seafood & Texas Steakhouse (2290 I-10 Access Road, Beaumont)

Happy Donuts (104 South LHS Drive, Lumberton)

The Schooner Restaurant (1507 South Texas 69, Nederland)

Crazy Jose’s (900 South Main Street, Lumberton)

The company is also allowing customers that order from its app or website to add on a donation to the Southeast Texas Food Bank with its purchase.



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.